• Nobles of Null is a forum based roleplay site where sci-fi and magic collide. Here, Earth remains fractured and divided despite humanity reaching out to the stars. Worse still, the trans-human slaves of one major power have escaped, only to establish their own Empire, seething with resentment at abuses of the past. Even the discovery of aliens, though medieval in development, has failed to rally these squabbling children of Earth together with its far darker implications. Worse still, is the discovery of the impossible - magic. Practiced by the alien locals, nearly depleted and therefore rare, its reality warping abilities remains abstract and distant to the general populace. All the while, unseen in the darkness of space, forces from without threaten to press in. For those with eyes opened by insight, it is clear that an era is about to end, and that a new age will dawn.

Chapter 1: Anomaly


Outremer System, O-1/Bohemond, Base Alpha

Caleb sighed, leaning against the rock outcropping, getting as comfortable as he could with the facemask and it's attached filter. While I appreciate the ability to not be stuck in a pressure suit, he thought, looking at the foreign red dwarf sun rise over the equally foreign red seas, I'd really love it if the air and water wasn't filled with so much fucking bacteria. See exotic places, they said. I thought they meant exotic foreign ports, not planets undergoing their own version of the Oxygen Holocaust. Oh well, at least it's pretty.

"Base to Captain Schembri," a voice said over the comms, "come in, Captain."

Caleb sighed, triggering his own comm. "Captain Schembri to Base, I hear you," he said, "Is my break time over already, Lieutenant?"

"Yes, sir. Sorry sir," the other officer replied, trying to sound apologetic. "Higher ups are briefing the new arrivals soon and want you back for that."

"Of course, of course," the Captain replied, grunting as he got up from his spot. "I'll be back in a few minutes. Captain Schembri out." At that, he started on the trail that had brought him to the outrcroppping in the first place. It's nice to get out of the base every once and a while, he thought, looking around at the barren landscape, if I wanted to stay indoors all the time, I would have stayed home in Port Elysium. Hopefully, we'll be kept busy making sure the scientists are safe from injuring themselves and not just standing by, hoping that a Ruskie or Sino ship will show up just to alleviate the boredom. Though that'd be more of the Winston Churchill's problem than us ground pounders.

A few minutes later, he walked over a rise in the landscape and saw the series of bunkers and tunnels that held Base Alpha. Good old home away from home, he thought, saluting the armored soldier that stood watch as he walked into an airlock. Stepping into the decontamination chamber, he turned on the sprayers and let the antiseptic chemicals wash over him and the equipment that he'd taken out of the base. Got to make sure to not track anything into the base, he thought, lifting his boots and getting them washed. One of the original biologists got pneumonia from this shit.

Stepping into the wet room, Caleb took off the facemask and the fatigues he'd taken outside with him. Going over to the shower, he quickly hosed off the remnants of the caustic solution that had gotten onto his skin. Shaking off excess water, he put on a new set of fatigues and walked into the locker room. Going to his locker, he pulled out his boots, rank pins, and dog tags. After putting them all on and adjusting his fatigues to get rid of wrinkles, he was ready to go in front of the new personnel without embarrassing himself.

Freshly clothed, the Captain walked to the mess, which had been turned into a meeting room, due to it's status as the largest room on the base. With the recent arrival of new personnel, the old conference centers wouldn't have cut it for the initial meeting. As he turned the corner, the general noise of voices washed over him like the planet's red seas, making him cringe slightly. Taking a moment to calm himself, he walked through the threshold and took a moment to look around the hall.

Captain Elizabeth Bakarra stood in the mess hall/meeting room, watching over the activity with an eagle eye, a stern look to ensure it was known that she was the real deal. She wore the full Captain regalia, plus a navy blue shoulder cape over her left shoulder, and her right sidearm was visible in it's holster. Her mission was to keep this base safe, and she intended to do so.

Patrick sits in his designated chair adjusting a fishook pinned to the right side of his uniform. Constantly fiddling with it as it never seems to be perfectly even. His other trinket, a copper pin sits just above the fishook, displaying what looks to be a submarine in the background with a seashell in the front. Eventually he manages to get it lined up enough for it to be considered adequate by his standards, leaning forward in his seat waiting for the meeting to start.

"Sure got a bunch of weirdos here," Caleb said to himself, confident that no one could hear him over the cacophony. "Fair, I suppose," he added as he walked to the front of the room, where a podium and projector had been hastily set up. Gathered was the CO of the base, Brigadier General Lloyd Thomas and his staff, and the leading scientist, Dr. Helena De Groote (PhD), who were apparently hashing out the last details of the presentation.

"Oh, Captain," the General said, turning to nod at the soldier. "Glad to see you made it back in time."

"The exercise did me some good, sir," Caleb replied, saluting his commanding officer.

"Oh, come now, General," Helena said, smiling as she turned to Caleb, "He was off duty. Never mind that there's still some people that aren't here yet."

"Well, we're going to start without them, cause we need to get this dog and pony show on the road," Thomas said, waving the other two to their seats before walking over to the podium. "Alright, everyone," he said, tapping the microphone, "The meeting is about to begin, please be seated."

The academic part of the audience took a few moments to calm down and find their seats, while the soldiers were either sitting already or immediately sat down.

Patrick turns to the front of the mess hall. Waiting for the General to speak.

Eliza listened intently as her superiors spoke, as this would no doubt be vital information.

"As you all hopefully know, my name is General Thomas and I'm the Commanding Officer of this expedition, so anywhere in this star system, my word is law," he said, scanning the crowd. "This post might have started as more of a research outpost, but what you're going to be looking into has become more of an issue of national security than pure research. I say this, not because of any animosity I have towards scientists and their work, but to make sure all of you understand the gravity of the situation. For now, everything you're about to see, research, and discuss is classified and until we're got a full handle on this, anything that is discovered is strictly the property of the American Union and Commonwealth of Worlds. I'd give you a chance to bow out, but you were given that chance before you left the Sol system. So, without further ado, I'll turn the time over to Dr. Helena De Groote."

"Thank you, General," the Doctor said, her French accent betraying her origins, "As he said, my name is Helena De Groote. I'm a Doctor of Science, specializing in xenobiology and astrogeology, namely where they crossover in the development of life. When the first extra-solar astronomy was conducted, one of the field's many missions was to discover the location of nearby life-bearing worlds. Besides the closer worlds like Atlantica or New Texas, a number of candidates were discovered. One of the most puzzling was this system, what has been renamed as the Outremer system." At the mention of Outremer, the projector came to life and showed a diagram of the system, before zooming in onto the red and brown mottled planet, Bohemond.

"Most planets that we've found that have been capable of life have either been in a more primitive state, with few bacteria swimming in tidal pools, or more developed, with plants and animals. With Bohemond, we thought we had a planet in between, in the process of evolving past bacteria and onto more complicated life forms. So, in partnership with ISOC and CSC, we embarked on our first expedition about five years ago and started work on figuring out the history of the planet. To make a long story short, we found inconsistencies in the fossil record, mainly that there was none at all. It was as if someone had dumped a bunch of bacteria and algae on a barren planet and let several millennium pass."

"Well..." she continued, as the projector switched to an aerial view of what was undoubtedly alien ruins, "After trying to find an answer to where Bohemond's life came from and scouring the planet for four years, we found what can only be described as buildings and structures of a design unseen in any xeno-archeological site on record. When we went to the ruins, we discovered a number of artifacts that are, shall we say, anomalous. You'll learn the sordid details later, but needless to say, as a mainly xeno-biology and geological team, we were unprepared for the type and amount of material that we'd uncovered."

"Which brings us to why all of you were brought here by the Winston Churchill," Helena said with a smile, looking over the audience. "You are here as experts in your disparate fields, from physics to linguistics to killing things, to get us the perspective necessary to understand these artifacts and the ruins. It's a bounty that hasn't been seen since the initial discovery of the Aos Si. So, you'll be split into groups and given an artifact or two to look at. Officially, it's not a competition, but let's just say there's a prize to the team that gets the furthest in sorting out their artifact today."

With that, Doctor De Groote started calling out groups and where they were to meet. "And Group 5, please meet at conference room 3," she said, pointing at one of the entrances to the mess hall.


That's my cue, Caleb thought, standing up from his seat and starting for the door. From there, it was a quick walk to the conference room, one that could have been in any human settlement in known space, a long table sitting in the middle of the room, with ten chairs set around it, with datapads set on the table in front of them. Being the first one in the room, he picked the chair opposite of the door, picking up a datapad and starting to page through it.

Patrick snaps back into focus after the Doctor and General finished talking. Wiping his face to try and refocus and stands up. Following the group into the conference room. He then sits down and looks at the datapad idly, just looking at the first page.

Eliza quickly analyzed the other members of 'Group 5' to assess their usefulness. She trusted that each had their purpose, even if it wasn't apparent. She walked purposfully into the conference room, not saying a word as she sat down and began leafing through the datapads info.

"Sorry I'm late everyone~!" A young, pitchy, and artifically tinny voice said as the door to the conference room opened and someone walked in, carrying what may as well be reams of paper covered in notes. She was wearing a thick helmet with a polarized visor, as well as a full body EVA suit, with a lab coat over top. "You would not believe the type of people here!" She added, setting down all her papers with a cheerful huff. "I mean, someone entered my room this morning to wake me up! Can you imagine how inconsiderate that was?" She asked, still sounding as cheerful and bubbly as before. It sounded as if her face was frozen into a cheerful smile. "Thankfully I sleep in my suit, or else I would have had to spend alllll day in the infirmerary making sure he didn't give me any nasty wasty pathogens! Anyway, I'm late because I had to sterilize my room and all my stuff! I hope your day so far has been positivly spectacular!"

Oh god, Eliza thought, it's a bubbly one. One of those individuals that couldn't stop smiling, just grinning away. In Eliza's experience, these sorts were either a little nutty, a lot nutty, or just not wise to the world. Hopefully it was the last one, though, just by looking at her, it seemed to be at least the first one. Hopefully the kid grew up sooner rather than later. 'Universe ain't care about your age, it gonna eat your guts regardless,' is what her mother always told her. Though, to be fair, this posting wasn't suposed to be to exciting anyway. A blessing and a curse. "Next time set the alarm, keeps unwanted visitors from poking you with a stick." She spoke sternly, eyes staring at the new kid to make her point, and then glancing back down to the datapad. She had spoken.

Jessica turned her head to Elizabeth when she spoke. "Oooo~!" Jessica said, lightly clapping her hands together quickly. "You're hostile! I'd love to psychoanalyze you!~" She said giddily as she took her seat. "Working with people is so exciting!"

Well that decided that, kid was at least 46% nutty. Eliza just shook her head. Egghead types fell into two categories, usually. Ordinary people that were super smart, or nutty genius with horrendus people skills. "No honey, I was giving you advice, so that you don't need to deal with that again. Learn it once, aint no reason to have to learn it again."

"Oh I know!" Jessica said, starting to flip through her papers at a blistering speed. "But I've never met someone like you before! What am I saying, I've never really met anyone before, this is going to be so much fun!" She giggled, clapping her hands again, before going back through her papers. "I wonder if your pessimistic nature stems from childhood upbringing, or past truama. I can't wait to get to know everyone!"

Eliza sighed, and shook her head lightly. This was going to be a long posting. She just wanted to fight pirates, prove herself to her superiors. Now she's in the loony bin. Joy. She just ignored the kid for the time being.

Patrick watches the two with mild suprise. He's heard rumors that the surfacefolk were strange but he always dismissed it as simply misunderstandings and the fact that the only surfacefolk most people saw was the quartermaster, who was exceptionally weird. But now, seeing surfacefolk in the flesh, he understands what the elders were saying. He wonders if the entire science department is this neurotic. At least the quarters are seperated between science and security, otherwise his head will probably explode before the day would end.

Another woman in a labcoat- worn neatly over her GDW officer's uniform- sat up straight in her chair and cleared her throat. She was on the lanky side, and probably in her late 20s or early 30s, "That's hardly appropriate, Doctor- and even if it was this is hardly the time. Take a seat, please." She tsk'd and crossed her arms disaprovingly in the direction of the younger woman. Arachne was hardly in charge of any of the other researchers, but she wasn't going to put up with that sort of behavior from any of her colleagues in front of their superiors.

Caleb looked around the room, double checking his list of team members. "...Panagiotopoulou, Peters, and..." he muttered, before facepalming. "Oh, that's why we only have five people here. Captain Bakarra," he continued, letting his datapad drop to the table as he got up, "Please make sure everyone stays here, while I go get our lost sheep." With that, he walked around the table and out of the room, grumbling as he went.

Captain Bakarra slowly turned to 'Panagiotopoulou' with a growing smile. "I'm sorry your name is WHAT?" She started chuckling to herself. "Where the hell are you from?"

Arachne raised an eyebrow at the Captain and tilted her head off to her left, "I'm from the
Gemeinschaft der Welten, Captain. It's Greek."

She waved her hand politely, shaking her head. "No no, it's great. That's just a hefty string o' letters you got there. Good luck with them. " She still chuckled, looking back to her datapad.

"Ah- right." Arachne looked from side to side without moving her head, and then leaned back in her chair to settle back in from that small exchange.

The door of the conference room opened with no ceremony, Captain Schembri walking through first, soon followed by another scientist, a tall yet lanky one who carried a large box that seemed to be made for suviving explosives.

"Alright," Caleb said, going back to his seat, "Now that everyone's finally here, let's go over the artifact that we'll be looking at. Dr. Peters here, will be filling us in, due to this being his first break from looking at the damn thing for...how long, Doctor?"

Speaking in a slight german accent the doctor pushed some rather large and techy glasses up his nose. "Anomaly number Zero Zero Zeven? Somevere in zee range of seven veeks." The doctor put the box down on a nearby table and turned to look over the collection of new faces, a large and toothy smile showing. "Greetingz all. Apologies for zee missing introductions, I am Dr Jackson Peterz if you don't mind going one at a time so I can learn zour names?"

Clearing his throat, Patrick says in an accent similar to a sailor's, "Technical Sergeant Patrick Turner at yer service."

Jessica had been nose deep in her papers since her interaction with Elizabeth, but looked up when people were giving their names. "Oh! Doctor Jessica Grey, PhD. I graduated top of my class at Oxford, and am in the top of my field! I can't wait to make friends with you all!"

Eliza spoke, her voice back to stern and commanding, like a real soldier. "Captain Elizabeth Bakarra, graduated at the top of the Academy, New Texas native, and friendship is not required."

"Oooh, broody," Jessica said clicking a pen and beginning to write. "Fear of commitment? Getting hurt? Social isolationist?" She said to herself, but lots enough that it was obvious she didn't know how to talk to herself.

"New Texas huh? Seems like quite the downgrade coming from New Texas to a place like this."

"Less things trying to eat you on daily basis, but the water isn't drinkable, so... pros and cons." She shrugged, before leaning closer to Jess, face still holding the ordinary soldier stare, but her voice was that strained annoyance. "Hey, kid, it might be a fantastic news flash to you, but you can think in your own head, without talking. It's all the rage these days." She leaned back, turning back the current speaker, this German sounding guy.

Arachne straightened out her coat, "Stabskapitän-leutnant Arachne Panagiotopoulou. I'm a xenovirologist. For those of you less scientifically inclined- I research alien diseases."

"And I'm Captain Caleb Schembri," Caleb said, looking around the table. "Good to be working with all of you. We'll be starting work right away, after Dr. Peters gives us the rundown on the artifact."

"Mine Jentalmen und ladies please keep disscusion for zee end." Jackson said in that lecturing tone most professors get. "Beleive me zoo vill have plenty to talk about." He gave a moment for the talking to quiet the lab coat wearing scientist turned to the captain and nodded to the box as he pulled a pair of thick and heat resistant gloves from one of many pockets he had. "Captain eef you wouldn't mind."

"Yep, time for show and tell, everyone," Caleb said, pulling out a keycard and inserting it into a card reader on the box. The box clicked open and he pulled back the lid so the scientist could pull out the object.


"Sank you." Reaching in with his now gloved hands he pulled out the object and turned around holding it up to his small crowd. "Zis is one of zee few known active artifacts our excavations oove uncovered." What he held was a large jeweled bronze disk. Inset in the disk was a large red gem with other colors encircling it, each engraved with odd iconograghy. "Eet is also one of zee zafer ones in our collection, at zis time compared to Zero Zero Vour poor privates arms turned into spagetti." He shuddered and returned to the artifact he was holding, " In any case, Zis artifact is able to create heat in the eighty to zeventy centigrade range."

Placing the disk gem side down he grabbed an aluminum cup out of the box along with a container of water. As he filled the cup and placed it on the metal disk he continued his explanation. "As too how zis effect occurs is still unknown, but we have determined the activation method to be thought patterns in the nearby life forms." After completeing his preperations he turned to the group, "Specificaly thoughts of Feuer." Almost immediately, the yellow, red, and orange gems glowed and the water in the cup began to boil as a small heat haze started rising from the disk. The man wore a wide grin as he looked over the faces of his audience for their reactions. "Questions?"

Jessica immediately shot her hand up. "Do we have any further examples of writing!? I want all of it!"

"It should be on the datapad," Caleb said, holding his hands by the artifact to warm them.

"I mean the actual artifacts and writings," Jessica said. "Whenever I get pictures it's live the person taking them had no idea what they were doing! I can't get anything from them!" She said, her cheerful tone unwavering.

"You'd vant to talk to Dr Juniper the head of zee archeological excavation for zat. Any ozer questions pertaining to zis artifact in particular?" Jackson tried to hide his mild disapointment at the first question asked being off the topic. They were dealing with something that generated heat without any detectable fuel source, the applications for such a device were limitless.

"So it's essentially a stovetop powered by thoughts?". Patrick breathes a sigh of relief, if this is the most these scientists are going to uncover then this truly will be a walk in the park. And to think that potentially he could've been assigned to do something with the Hawking system rebellion.

Jackson tried to supress his sigh as the headache he had been getting rather used to over the last seven weeks. "Ezentialy."

This entire artifact thing felt above her paygrade, but Eliza didn't want to be left behind. "Does it also do the opposite? Like, you can freeze something?"

"Not to our knowledge, though we have tested other stimuli no other effects have been observed."

"You'd think it'd do something else, it's got six jewels in it, so you'd think it'd do more than just one thing," Caleb said, shrugging .

"Captain while yes zat was true for Zero Zero Two it does not mean everyzing ve find works zat way." Jackson subdued the groan coming on as he was reminded of his lost wages on the betting pool when the grunts decided to test the afformentioned object. Reaching over and picking up the cup of water and pulled a clip of teabags from one of his pockets and started the brewing proccess. "Vee few people withz brains on zis base are greatful for your teams lack of complexity..... on occasion. Next questeon."

"You said you've been studying it for seven weeks? How many individual tests have you run on it? How many seperate people have tried- er- thinking at it and have they all been human?" Arachne spoke up with her question, but she didn't look particularly impressed.

"Ef we vere in my lab I could give you a more exact number but in zee range of fourty." He stirred in a trio of sugar cubes and some cream powder. "As to vour third question, ve have a sheet with ve names und dates of all interactions with the objects, but unless you include several speices of arachnid und house flies zen no only human have interacted with zee objects."

"I see. Very well, then." Arachne squinted at the artifact, "That's all I have."

Eliza raised her hand. "Can the magic hot plate be used for personal use? Like a hot pack for sore backs or something, and also will we have to share?"

Jackson looked to her then to the hotplate in question. "Considering zee temprature range obsevered I vouldn't recomend it. Zo vor personal use please talk to zee captain about zat." He said as he took a sip from his magicaly heated tea.

"Yeah, it's available for supervised personal use," Caleb said, putting on his own heat-resistant glove and taking the disk, the gems' light fading as he did so. "Essentially, have at least one other person around when you're using it. And we'll pass it around when we're back in the labs." He held his ungloved hand next to the artifact for a moment, then held it in both hands, the anomaly having cooled down in the intervening seconds. "Reason we're not doing that in here is that the anomalies are just that, anomalies. They react differently to different people and we're really not sure why. Sometimes they don't do anything, sometimes they do stuff that we're never seen before, and they always tire people out when they try to activate them at first. For some reason, repeated use lets you use the anomalies for longer. A-002 is the safest we have, it's literally a light that turns on when you touch it, so you'll all eventually go on "lightswitch duty" to build your endurance, unless you make something explode in the meantime."

Putting the disk back in it's box, he said, "Techncially there's a bunch of paperwork that we should go over, but I trust that you're all smart enough to go through all the standard liablity bullshit. Only things that I'll emphasize while you're handling anything anomalous," he continued, closing the lid. "Take your time, focus on the task when you're handling an anomaly, and don't over do it. Like I said, these things can tire you out quickly and I would rather not have a bunch of you in the infirmary. If no one has any objections, let's head to the labs."

Not giving anyone a chance to bring up objections, Caleb led the way out of the conference room ,with Jackson carrying the box behind him, and walked deeper into the bunker. After passing the barracks and scientist quarters, they passed through an airlock and into the labratory proper. Seperated into their own modules, the labs each had their own airlocks and locker rooms, which the Captain shepherded the group through one of them, where they were equipped with lab coats, gloves, and goggles. Once fully dressed, the group gathered around a table where the anomalous disk, A-007, was brought out of it's box again.

"Alright, this is what you've all been brought here to do," Caleb said, gesturing at A-007, "who wants the first crack at testing an alien artifact?"

Eliza looked over the team, waiting for someone to step up. The artifact wasn't shaped like a weapon, so she wasn't interested in testing it. She really wanted to use an alien weapon. That would be so cool.

Jackson quietly moved behind what looked like a blastshield window and picked up the clipboard and pen. The man looked at the people before him with a smile that exuded more than the normal level of excitement.

Patrick stares at the jeweled disk puzzeled. Testing out alien artifacts wasn't in the enlistment packet that he received. Yet it would be disgraceful if the first task he was assigned to ended in disappointment. Patrick begins idly messing with the fishhook on his arm as he tries to think of something that the disk might react to. If the disk can heat up something couldn't it also cool stuff down? Using this reasoning Patrick slowly inches towards the disk and gently prods it while thinking of life back in the trench. How cold it was when the heating occasionally shut off in his unit, or the freezing cold water whenever a leak occured that flooded half of the compartments.

Eliza looked at Dr. Jackson, then back to Patrick, then back to Jackson, and walked over to stand behind the blastshield.

As Patrick touched the metal of the disk and mentally reached back to freezing memories, the anomaly reacted, the blue and purple gems lighting up. The object's temperature then dropped, with condensation first forming on the anomaly, which then turned to frost in the next moment. The impact on the Sergeant was nearly as fast, with the tip of his finger getting frozen to the disk and a matching headache that came on as suddenly as if he'd gotten brain freeze.

Patrick feeling the pain rushing through his fingers immediately reaches for his hand to pull it off the disk before grabbing his face suddenly and turning to the blastshield. "Agh! By the sea mothers scales... I need some help 'ere!" Wincing, he attempts to pull his fingers off of the artifact.

"Can I see the disk?" Jessica asked, trying to slip through the crowd of people without touching anyone, and immediately sanatizing her gloved hands once she was clear and taking the cold disk into her own hands without considering the possibility of bringing Patrick's fingerprints with her as she looked it over, pulling his still attached hand along.

Jackson took notes on the clipboard. "Please bare with it vor a moment." He made sure the recording equipment was on as this new facet of the anomoly was found. He also avoided looking at the captain for the possibilty of a smug grin he wouldn't live down. He then raised his voice a tad. "Ould zomeone move zee child out of vee vay? She's blocking zee camera."

"Think hot things! I will pose for science if I must. For legal reasons that's a joke, I won't help you," Eliza said with a smirk. This should be interesting to watch, though she did hope the very first artifact didn't off one of their eggheads on the first go. Doc Jackson didn't seem to care on way or another.


"Could someone tell the Doctor to figure out his accent?" Jessica asked without looking away from the disk. "He used two different phonetics for the same word, in the same sentence, in a way a national would not." She added, bringing her helmeted head closer to the disk. "Red... Blue... Purple, Yellow, Orange, green," She said, sounding to be in thought. "You said it usually only gets hot, now it got cold. Red Yellow and Orange are warm colours, and they light up when it gets hot. Blue and Violet are cool colours, and they light up when it gets cold... Which means whatever this species is, could potentially use the same colour theory we do," She explained, looking over each of the gems even with Patrick still connected. "Sergeant Turner, please ignore your discomfort and think of a warm place please," She said simply, her visor looking him in the face.

Patrick nods slightly and tries to think of something warm. It proves to be quite difficult given the headache and the idea that Patrick's hand might get frozen forever on this stupid disk. Eventually Patrick gaze drifts over to his watch and remembers that today is Tuesday. Usually Patrick would be at home eating stew as Tuesday's are typically the days when the supply sub arrives bringing fresh food. Typically everyone in a unit meet up and enjoy one cooked meal before returning back to packaged food. Hence why Tuesday's are nicknamed Stews-day. Now he's here, currently frozen to a bronze disk while some scientists stare. But nonetheless he thinks of stew and stews-day to try and distract from the thumping from inside his skull and the pain from his right hand.

The disk responded to the Sergeant's thoughts slower than before, the cool-colored gems taking a few seconds to dim and the yellow and orange sapphires brightening slower as well, though the frost on the object melted quickly as the object warmed up and released Patrick's finger. Once he was no longer touching the anomaly, the gems dimmed once again, this time the green gem blinking on and off as it lay in Jessica's hands, as if waiting for a command.

"Huh, that's new," Caleb said, coming around the group and pulling Patrick back. "How are you feeling, Sergeant?"

Patrick wheels back from the disk and flaps his hand around in an attempt to cool off his hand. After dealing with the pain in his hand he turns to Caleb. "Besides thee burning pain in me hand, and the splittin headache in me 'ead I'd say i'm just cheery captain. If ye don't mind I'd rather sit out for the rest of the testing."

"Yeah, feel free to go get something from the infirmary to help with the headache," Caleb replied, nodding as he let go of the other man's shoulder. "Feel free to come back or stay, depending on how you're feeling. Good job, Sergeant."

Patrick nods and heads to the infirmary to grab something for the headache and to wrap up his hand.

Jessica continued to stare at the plate, rolling it over in her hands as she examined the gems. "It cycles through various tempuratures..." She whispered, stating the obvious rhetorically. "Very hot, yellow orange red, warm, yellow orange, very cold, violet and blue, green is some kind of standby..." She said, before letting out a huff. "How would a device like this be useful aside from food preparation? Perhaps a part to a larger device? Maybe thermoregulation for the species?" She asked, looking up. "Anyone have any ideas?"

Jackson rolled his eyes. "It's a veoreticaly infinite source of heat. There is no viece of paper large enough to vist all the uses for zuch a device, from rezudential, vo millitary vo industrial." He sounded a tad exasperated at the question even though he seemed unpertebered by the other actions taken. Being a physicist he had already gone through that exact quesiton and run into the wall of uses that such a thing could be used for.

"Wouldn't that redefine the very laws of physics?" Jessica asked, looking at the doctor. "The energy has to come from something."

"Certainly, certainly. Vat from the scans as well as obzerbation I vould not vind a power zource." The fact he was talking about breaking the laws of physics didn't seem to phase the physicist,

"Doesn't everyone get headaches and stuff when they use an anomaly?" Caleb asked, looking between the doctors. "Seems like it's drawing something out of the people that use it."

"Vi uve been reaquesting a proper medical vacility vor zat reason." He pushed up his glasses onto his nose,

"I'll bug them about that again," the Captain replied, sighing as he felt his own headache come on.

"It's not caloric energy..." Jessica said. "My helmet read the last room as 24 degrees celcius. It would probably have killed the doctor when he boiled that cup of water, or at least made him lose a significant amount of body fat," She said, crossing her arms. "About five pounds of fat... That would be a noticable change."

"Vive and a half actualy vut yes calories vare not zee zource." He said that as he raised his still warm cup and taking a sip before removing the teabag and tossing it in the nearby trash can. "Iu've vondered over some zort of radiation vut no valterations ave been noted in zee area on any of mine experiments."

Jessica sighed, taking a deep breath in. "I would do all the math to explain how it's five point one pounds rounded to the nearest decimal point, but you're currently trying to assert superiority over a non-physisict doctor!" She said, a cheerful smile in her voice. "Would you not think it childish to be so semantic for an observation of sight, rather than imperical numbers?" She asked, before looking at Eliza. "Forget you, I wanna analyze him."

Eliza chuckled. "Fine by me, he's weirder by far." She pointed at the faux-German Doc. "My mind is basic as hell in the weird department."

"No one is basic," Jessica said cheerfully. "Just haven't figured out their quirk yet!"

Eliza scoffed, shrugging. "Compared to him I'm average at best, he was just staring at y'all waiting for shit to go wrong. I at least had the excuse of having zero idea what was going on."

Jackson threw up his arm with a clipboard, "Ve have un object zat is breaking ZEE LAWS UV PHYSICS, und you all are vondering over my mental state?"

"Honestly it's the biggest mystery right now," Jessica said happily, before looking at the disc again. "Anyway, if it isn't calories, maybe it's something else? Everything we are aware of would have a dramatic effect to power this, so..." She gasped. "What if it uses a particle we don't know of?"

Jackson shook his head "I doubt vat- " And he got cut off by a display that started beeping and immediataly drew his attention. "Oooh Interesting." Jackson leaned into the computer screen which displayed a field around the object. From the writing around the image it was a magnetic field simulation based off the scanners in the room, with the field spiking wildly in time with the green gem's blinking. "Very interesting."

Eliza looked at the computer screen, nodding. "Yep, sure." She had no idea what this meant, what the fuck was going on, and frankly she was starting to wonder why she was still here.

"Is the disk going to explode or something?" Jessica asked, her visor never moving away from the disk. "What are you guys looking at?"

"There's a magnetic field coming from the disk," one of the technicians said, tapping a few controls. "It's been there before, but it's much stronger now. Perhaps you were correct, Dr. Grey, in that it's waiting for an input of some kind?"

Arachne uncrossed her arms and rested her hands on her knees, "There are other types of energy that the anomalies could be sapping. Maybe it's sustaining itself on your psychic energy? Maybe draining your mana bar?" Her voice switched from being very serious to almost mocking in tone. There was some seriousness to this situation, but it was also all just a little absurd, "Have any of you taken any levels in wizard, by chance?" A slight smirk grew on her lips, "In seriousness maybe it requires a physical input, is there any sort of slot on it that looks like it might fit something inside?- or perhaps there are others like it. It could potentially be part of some sort of array. Death ray, anyone?"

Eliza had always mained Fighter, less bookwork and accounting than the caster classes. She did raise her hand quickly at the Death Ray. "One please! I'd be great with a death ray."

"Vile I appreciate zee light hearted tone please do note I have spent a lot of time viz zis object. zough most of it vas in analysis alone ve have conducted multiple active tests along side ovar objects to minimal result, though you may be villing to try if zee captain allows it." Jackson said in a german accent as he threw a look at the captain to the effect of 'This might be useful so please ignore the last time we did this'

Jessica started turning the disk over in her hand again, then put it down. As she did, the green gem kept blinking for a few moments, then dimmed, matched by the magnetic field disappearing. "Well, until I can look over all of the other artifacts and start finding similarities, I don't know how much more I could do with this," She said simply, looking around the room. "Is this all we are allowed to look at?"

"No, there's more," Caleb said, pulling up a list of the artifacts and looking to see which ones were available. "Well, we can get 002 for sure. Could get 004 out of storage if everyone promises not to touch the damn thing, don't want any more spagetification if I can help it. Any other suggestions, Doctor?" he asked the German.


"I vas going to recomend zero two vour on account of zee possible pairing between zee two but zero zero two vould be another zimple one to show." The doctor responded nodding approvingly as he continued to write on his quickly filling up clipboard of poorly organized notes. He looked between the current object and the display with a nod and addedd another line with his pencil. "Zough maybe having only one or two at a time, might be a good idea, ja?"

"Ehh, as long as no one handles more than one at a time, should be fine," the Captain replied, tapping on his datapad before heading out of the room. "I'll be back in a sec," he said, before closing the door. True to his word, a few minutes later, he was back with a pair of privates, each toting a box. "Thank you, soldiers," he said, nodding to the pair as they set their packages down. They nodded and stepped back, keeping their charges in sight. "Alright, which one do you guys want to look at first?" Caleb asked the group.

"Which of the two identical boxes should we pick guys?" Eliza fixed the Captain with slightly mocking, yet largely joking gaze, arms crossed. "I don't know, the one on the left looks especially boxy, but some might say the same of the right box. Anyone else want to weigh in?"

Caleb rolled his eyes, before opening the first box. "Here's 002," he said, pulling out the anomaly. It was a relatively simple device, a white diamond set into an oversized bronze-colored ring. "Like previously stated, this is the easiest artifact to interact with. Just think about light and..." he said and the diamond came to life, giving off a soft glow. "Simple enough," he continued, putting away the 'lightswitch', it's glow dimming as he moved on to the next box.

"This is the problematic one," he said, opening the second box and tilting it to show off the artifact. The device looked like a bracer, with a slab of onyx bookended by ruby loops that looked like they'd fit around a person's arm. Set into the onyx were rows of rubies, each with their own symbol. "When people put it on previously, the loops actually shrink until they're tight around their arm. Which makes it extremely difficult to take off in the event that something goes wrong. Honestly, this anomaly probably has the biggest potential in what it can do, but at this point, until we sort out the symbols, it's too dangerous to use."

"And finally, 024," the Captain continued, opening the final box. "This one is new to me, think they found this one relatively recently." Pulling out the anomaly, it looked like an oversized cup, shaped out of transparent quartz with a band of bronze along its edge, which was set with a number of small rubies and sapphires. "Apparently, when you seal it," he said, putting his hand over the open end of the cup, "And take a deep breath, it changes the composition of the atmosphere in the sealed area. Did you get the notes for the exact percentages, Doctor?"

Jackson shook his head. "It's not zat simple Captain. Vile I vould love to give you a proper lecture on the topic I still have to run more tests on zat specific object. From basic obbservation it concentrates the atmosphere into a different ratios...." He tapped his chin with the pencil. "If I had my notes on me I'd be able to tell you zee exact concentrations but I do remeber it being a higher oxygen enviroment or something along those lines."

"So, mostly breathable, but slightly more dangerous around open flames," Caleb said, putting the cup back in the box. "Now that you know what the options are, I'll repeat myself. Which one do you guys want to look at first?"

Patrick walks back into the testing chamber sporting a bandage wrapping on his right hand. He winces at the bright lighting of the chamber as it magnifies his headache tenfold. "If it were up to me I would prefer the things that don't rip arms off or potentially turns the chamber into a bomb. But I ain't a scientist aren't I? So what do ye big heads think?" He says in mild annoyance.

"Not a big head, but I think you should just start small. The better you understand something, the less chance it kills you." Elizabeth had said her piece, and so waited for someone else to throw themselves into harms way.


The Next Morning

"Alright, everyone," Caleb said, once everyone showed back up at their conference room. "We got a lot further on than any other group in finding new stuff, so we get to be the first group to go on a field trip over to the alien ruins. Any questions before we head off?"

Eliza raised her hand, nodding. "Yes, actually, how dadgum dangerous will this be?" She'd learned from home that if your friends suggested going somewhere for fun, work, or just to do it, you ask how dadgum dangerous this'll be. "Do you know or do all y'all eggheads have no actual idea? Can we expect alien diseases, turrents, and/or ancient artifacts with dark presences attached, not to mention alien beings with no kindness in their hearts?"

"You all will have to worry about disease," Jessica said, with a massive dufflebag the willowy girl had literally dragged into the conference room. "However the ships didn't acknowledge any macrolife. Plenty of nasty wasty pathogens and germs though! Don't worry though, I brought sanitizer for everyone!" She said, her permanently cheerful voice getting modulated by her suits speakers.

"That doesn't feel cost effective, I'll just lick it and build up an immunity." Eliza shook her head, disaproving of this. It was humerous though, to see Dr. Child react.

"That is a gross idea," Jessica said, her voice unchanging. "Though, don't worry about cost! I paid for it all on my own, and am happy to share it," She said, looking at Eliza. "But don't worry. I forgive you for not understanding immunity takes a long time to develop and a momentary exposure can cause horrific death if anything here doesn't like us!"

"Like you'd know, walking terrarium." She smirked, leaning against the wall.

"Wow!" Jessica said, legitimate, naive glee in her voice. "That's actually really surprising!"

Eliza licked her finger, rubbed it against the nearby wall, and then licked her finger again. "What's surprising, that someone's willing to talk to you?"

Eliza could almost feel Jessica shudder, but her suit hid it well. "That a soldier who clearly didn't go through enough schooling to understand how microbiology operates knows the word terrarium," she said, lacking any malice in her voice. She was legitimately surprised.

"What's adorable is you think you just said shit." Eliza shook her head, the smirk remaining.

"I didn't say that?" Jessica said. "I said," She paused, taking a breath, "That a soldier who clearly didn't go through enough schooling to understand how microbiology operates knows the word terrarium," She repeated, saying it so much like how she had just said it, it almost seemed like a recording playback.

Eliza's smirk only grew into a smile, leaning forward with a hand to her ear. "Say again, I didn't hear you over the sound of the shit you think you said."

Jessica paused, then her head tilted to the side. "I think you should go to the infirmary. If you're not able to hear properly you might put people in danger on the mission!" She said, before turning to everyone else. "Also, I can't express how absolutely excited I am to go on a mission! It's so exciting! My second time leaving the modicum safety of civilization ever!"

Eliza just chuckled to herself, laughing lightly at the situation. The kid was dumb in the areas Eliza was well versed, namely hazing dumb kids. "Try not to trip over your enthusiasm, the only thing more dangerous than being stupid is being so excited you forget to be smart."

"I don't think you can actually trip over enthusiasm..." Jessica said, bringing a finger to her helmeted face in thought. "It's an emotion, not a physical object which means unless it materialized in a physical form through some kind of wonky space magic..."

Caleb blinked a few times before asking, "Dr. Grey, you know there's such things as figures of speech, right?"

"Uh..." Jessica said for a moment. "Usually a figure of speech carries an obvious idiom with a purpose to teach in a compassionate yet indirect manner."

"How can you know the definition of something and yet have no idea when you see it?" Eliza seemed impressed in her inability. "That's inspiring."

Patrick listens to Eliza and Jessica's conversation with mild interest. More importantly however, was the fact that his coffee cooled down to the perfect temperature in which to drink it. "Inspiring indeed. What's more inspiring is the fact that you were all able to drag yourselves out of yer bunks this morning." He takes a sip out of his cup and rubs his face to try and wake himself up.

Jessica perked up, turning to Patrick. "Have you been struggling to get good sleep?" She asked, starting to put all her stuff away. "I can help with that! I know a lot about how to get a good night sleep, even when the situation won't allow you to get the recommended 8 hours," She said, looking up. "Though, did you know that the monocycle sleep that most humans participate in is extraordinarily ineffecient and takes up a very large chunk of time that could be more productive?" She asked, her voice happy and unwaivering as ever.

"Mono what now? It ain't the hours that I'm having trouble with." He gestures towards the sky. "It's this damn star above the planet. I'm so used to the artificial light back in the deep that it's damn near impossible to not wake up when the star comes round." He grumbles, "It's too damn bright."

Patrick could feel Jessica was staring at him, and given her previous conversation with Eliza, was probably trying to simplify her words. "Mono means single, cycle is the format our sleep awake periods are set up. Monocycle means one sleep per cycle. If you know anything about sound, a monochannel audio channel has one channel. Stereo has two channels," She said, before going back into her bag.

She then pulled out a cloth with cartoon characters on it. She offered it to Patrick. "Use this," She offered. "I have like, a thousand of them and it will help you deal with the sunlight. I understand your concern with sunlight, but my suit deals with that for me," She added.

"We can move your cabin if necessary as well," Caleb said with a shrug. "There's a couple that don't have windows that are empty at the moment. Most of the staff want a window, so there's a list of people who'd love to switch."

"The room next to mine is windowless and empty!" Jessica said with a sudden excitement. "She requested a transfer a little while after I showed up, no idea why!" She added. "She was a great listener though!"

Patrick looks at the cartoon characters along the cloth utterly puzzled. He ponders what the strange diving suit had to say for a moment. It could be a good opportunity to better understand what makes the surfacefolk tick and it would prevent the yellow beam of death from reaching his room and piercing his eyeballs. "If it has no windows than I don't see why not Captain Schembri." He then slowly takes the cloth from Jessica's hand

"Wait, I could have just asked for a window?" Eliza fixed the captain with an annoyed stare. "I thought we had to deal with what we had." She folded her arms across her chest, turning to Patrick. "What, you can't just throw a sheet and magnetize the edges on the wall, covering the window? Gotta think with your head man," she tapped her forehead with a finger, smirking.

He turns to Eliza "I'm going to be perfectly honest with you I have no idea how windows or these 'blinds' work. I've never seen these contraptions in me life. I tried the sheet thing but the light still bled through." He shakes his head "It's bad luck if you see light before you awaken supposedly. Means that the sea mother determines that the next sub you take will be your last."

Eliza's eyes widened, and she nodded slowly, before smiling again. "Oh right you're from the ocean planet! I forgot, you don't see sunlight often, or at all. That's... new to me, I admit." Eliza nodded to herself, smiling. "Well up here light just means it's time to get back to work, so it's not too far off from old ocean wives tales." She chuckled to herself, sighing.

"My room was only ever lit by LED's," Jessica said, clapping her hand a little in the excitement that Patrick just took her gift. She was making friends already! "Actually, the first time I ever saw the sun on earth was when I was leaving my house to go to the spaceport and come here!"

"That is immensely sad," Eliza stated, matter-of-factly, giving Jessica a searching glance. "You never had like a calender with a picture of the sun on it? You ever actually enjoy a day for being sunny?"

Jessica looked at Eliza. "I have seen pictures of it, but I hardly think that is the same thing?" She asked.

"That's what I'm saying, at least Ocean Man, take me by the hand, had a reason to not see the sun," she said, nodding to Patrick.

"My parents were concerned for my health," Jessica said with a shrug. "I'm photosensitive. They also saw this suit as a waste of money, but now I get to make my own choices!"

Eliza pointed at Jessica with a smile. "There we go, now you're sounding like a person! Also good to know one of your first choices for yourself is to delve into alien ruins, I can get behind that."

"Well how else am I going to publish another article?" Jessica asked. "Though, they said I couldn't go when I first heard of the mission. I'm too young to really make any changes to the understanding of the Aos Si, but this? This is a brand new opportunity! I'm really glad my circumstances changed to let me participate on this mission!"

Eliza grinned, and lightly punched Jessica's shoulder, eliciting a soft 'Ow' from her. "Hell yeah sister, you get them essays out! Don't you doubt yourself in your field, but remember to doubt yourself if you have no idea on the subject matter. Meaning don't get cocky in the alien ruins kid, and you'll be just fine." She patted the same shoulder of Jessica's she just punched, and resumed leaning against the wall.


Jackson walked in still holding his half full cup of tea from breakfast and took his seat slowly rubbing one of his eyes, the oversized glasses poking out of his lab coat pocket.

Arachne shifted in place- finally having found a place where she felt like speaking up again, "What changed your parent's minds? Seems like they'd be hard pressed to change their minds after saying no to something so important the first time. Something drastic?" She asked, unable to contain her curiosity for the girl's story any longer. She had originally been mostly uninterested, but it was starting to get boring sitting there quietely while everyone else carried on the conversation, "Did you use your mastery of linguistics?"

Jessica turned to Arachne. "Oh, I didn't do anything," She said, going back to her bag. "turns out, hitting the ground at over 300 knots in a private plane on your way back from vacation in... The Dominican I believe, is quite persuasive in allowing your daughter to make her own educational decisions," She said. She was still cheerful. "They took the trip like, every three months. I used the time to read fantasy novels, Lord of the Rings was fantastic!" She added happily.

Elizabeth stared at Jessica, the smile just slowly fading. "Yeah. Uh. Yeah, that'd do it. Great books, yeah." She looked away, the situation growing exponetially more awkward now.

Caleb rubbed his eyes for a few moments, before clearing his throat and said, "Lord of the Rings is good. Anyway, while the rest of us were testing anomalies, there was a seperate team that was going over the ruins." He tapped on his datapad and a picture arrived on the rest of the group's datapads. "And they found a circular depression on a wall of the surviving structure. Any guesses as for what anomaly we've been dealing with that can fit in the hole?"

Eliza's blues were chased away rather quickly as the nearest joke presented itself. She looked to Caleb with a smirk. "I don't know Captain, what can you fit in that hole?"

Jessica loked at Eliza. "Was that a sexual remark?"

"Absolutely kid, you learn quick." Eliza shot the kid a finger gun of approval.

Jessica looked at the Captain. "Sir, I advise against attempting to insert sex organs into the alien ruins."

"It's a little too big for that anyway," he replied, sparking a sudden laugh from Eliza.

"Which thing's too big Captain?" she asked with a massive smirk on her face.

"Any of my equipment, that's for sure," Caleb said, snorting as he shook his head.

Jessica looked between the Captain and Eliza. "Is... Is this entirely work appropriate?" She asked. "Is... This normal?"

"Don't worry about it honey, you'll learn when you're older. Or not, given your track record. Captain," she looked back at Caleb, still chuckling. "That's the best answer." She leaned back against the wall, the tension in the room no longer sad. Mission accomplished.

He raised his coffee cup in acknowledgement, then asked, "Any serious guesses or should I just say it?" before taking a sip of his beverage.

"I've made my inappropriate jokes, I have nothing else to add." She shook her head, still chuckling. "Any, he said. He said any is too big." She was out of ideas, but she was damn pleased with herself anyway. She leaned forward suddenly, grinning like a madwoman. "WAIT! I have one more. Is that an anomly in your pants or are you just happy to see me, okay I'm done now." She leaned back against the wall, arms crossed proudly.

Jackson rubs his eyes and waits for the sugar to kick in from the back of the group.

Patrick rolls his eyes at the stream of bad jokes. "I'm assumin' the disc is the real answer?"

"Got it in one, Sergeant," Caleb said, putting down his coffee, still smiling at the jokes. "So, we'll be leaving for the ruins on a shuttle in about an hour with A-007 in tow. Hopefully, we'll get in and hopefully there'll be a bunch of new artifacts to mess with, maybe even enough of the alien's language to keep Dr. Grey busy. Any questions before we go?"

"We know if there are any weird critters hanging round the ruins? Not really a big fan of going outside without knowing if there's anything we need to look over?"

"Nothing around the ruins no," the Captain replied with a shrug. "The next most complex life form on the planet besides us is the algae in the oceans."

"Lets hope you're right..." Patrick seems slightly worried as he sips his coffee.

"Oh god captain, you jinxed us all." Eliza sighed with a, mostly, joking chuckle.

Jessica rested her fists onto her hips. "I just explained there was no macro life on the planet!" She said, her voice a mix between cheerful and pouty.

"That you know of." Eliza raised an eyebrow, again with a smirk. "Tech ain't perfect."

"Oh well," Jessica said, heaving up her bag onto one shoulder before promptly being dragged down to the floor with a loud yelp by it, bonking her helmeted head off the floor. She sat up, looking at her bag, the visor obscuring her expression. "This might be more complicated than I had initially intended. I don't think I will be able to drag the bag all the way to the ruins like I did from my room," She said, looking around. "Help?"

"Ah I got it." Patrick gets out of his seat and lifts the dufflebag and looks at it in mild surpise at how light it was. "Huh figured that was gonna be a tad heavier..." he swings the bag over his shoulder and turns to Jessica, "Where do you want it?"

"How do you have the physicality of a dry twig?" Eliza spoke to Jessie, like usual with an amount of sarcasm though she did seem worried. This kid was gonna snap in half during a stiff breeze, and that shit ain't helpful. "You've never had to... move a big microscope or something? I don't know how heavy those are but it's a good measurement base."

"Uh... No?" Jessica said the Eliza, before turning to Patrick. "Thank you! And, uh... The ruins! That is supplies I need for an excursion, plus extra in case of any delays. I would rather not get sick and die," She said, the smile in her voice unwaivering. "It has sanatization supplies, extra bottles for my suits enviormental control, my own food because the base food doesn't meet my expectations, vitamin suppliments, destilled, deionised water with an appropriate addition of electrolytes," She said, counting on her fingers. "Anyway, I was lucky to fit it all in that bag!"

"Ah so everythin' one could ever need packed into one bag" Patrick nudges the bag further onto his back with his elbow and shrugs. "Could've been worse I suppose. Least I'm not carrying that cursed disc."

"Yeah, if you've ever read a book or seen a movie you know the one holding the disc is fucked." Eliza nodded with a joking affirmative. "The demons or cthuloids down in the ruins want the disc, I guarantee you."

"Yeah that's why i'm not carryin' it." Patrick states extremely serious, "Last thing I want is more bad luck on me."

"Right, cuz you saw the sun and the sun is spooky. Got it." Eliza didn't believe in the sun bit in particular, the light being a bad sign, but she could understand it. Dude was from the ocean, and the sun doesn't reach to far down there. As far as she knew at least. Doesn't mean she won't poke fun at it though. "Well, I'll be right back, I need to get my loadout. Someone needs to wrap us in protection from the world, and y'all ain't cutting it." He gave the room and nod and the captain a salute and left. She had a kit to ready up with.

"Well," Jessica said, standing closer to Patrick now. "I appreciate you helping me with my bag! It really means a lot!"

"Don't mention it, beats carrying around strange garbage and getting my hands frozen to weird plates. If you need help just ask, if we don't work together then chances are someone's bound to get hurt."

"If you need me too," Jessica said, "I can check your hands again to make sure there were no lasting effects! I wouldn't say I'm a medical professional but I wouldn't mind giving input!"

"Aw no need to. I'm perfectly fine watch." He then claps his hand super loudly then immediately winces. "See just fine," he wheezes through clenched teeth.

"I don't think you understand what 'fine' means," Jessica said, taking Patricks wrist in her hand and trying to pull his arms down so she could look at his hand.

"Ah ah hey hey!" Patrick protests but allows her to examine his bandaged hands grimacing despite her willowy grip.

"You clearly didn't do any long term damage," Jessica muttered, her fingers delicately hanging over his palm as she seemed to contemplate how best to look under the bandages. "You wouldn't feel anything if you had," She added, looking back up at, presumably, his face. "I have some polysporine. When you change these you can use it," She said happily, letting go of his wrist.

"Ah thanks..." He rubs his hands sheepishly "I'll make sure to remember that." Patrick coughs awkwardly before refocusing and turns to Captain Schembri. "Right getting geared up. Where do you want us to go in order to get ready?"

"Everyone that isn't suited up already needs to get a facemask and other accesories through the airlock," Caleb said, gesturing to the main entrance of the base, "then head for the landing pad. The shuttle we'll be taking is already there. Military personnel get firearms on the way out as well, just in case something weird's in the ruins. Scientists can pull guns if they're qualified on them."


Jessica looked at Caleb, physically radiating excitement. "Can I get qualified?!" She asked, clapping her hands together. "I've always wanted to shoot a gun!"

"Yes, but not in the next ten minutes," he replied, chuckling as he stood up. "Maybe Sergeant Turner can help you with that some time this week."

"I would really like that!" Jessica said, quickly turning to Patrick. "Please~?" She asked, holding her hands together.

"I'm not so sure I'm the one who would be able to teach you. You might wanna try Captain Bakarra, she seems like she sticks to her guns more often than me," Patrick said.

"Someone say guns?" The voice of Eliza Bakarra cut through the room as she returned, fully outfitted for the trip. In her arms a fully automatic rifle, on her back was a more traditional rifle, at her hip was service pistol, and she wore a half cape over her left shoulder. It was hiding a revolver. "Because I have some if you didn't pack your own, Eggheads." She wore the helmet needed for the weather outside, looking ready to go. On top of that, under the cape were an extraordiary amount of ammunition for the weapons she held in bandoliers strapped over her clothing. "What's taking y'all so long, suit up. Y'all been yammering for 5 minutes I'm already itching to go."

Jessica seemed to deflate a little at the offer, but her visor spared Patrick from the disappointed pout as she let out a sigh. Then she looked at herself, then at Eliza. "I've been ready since I woke up!" She said, her voice cheery despite the seemingly crushed hopes from seconds before. "You all can have fun with your masks. I will enjoy the protect provided by my suit!"

"Good hustle Jessie, you odd little twig! Y'all need to catch up, the girls are already heading out the door." She paused. "Metaphorically, cuz the Captain's in charge." She walked back to where she'd stood before, and leaned against the wall just as she had about 5 minutes ago. The only difference was she was considerably more deadly now. "I'll wait." The edge to her voice strongly suggested everyone quit yammering and left to get ready.

"Yep, let's get going," Caleb said, leading the group out of the conference room.

"Best of luck." Jackson wished them as he got up glad to return to his work without the recent guests to distract him.


Bohemond, Alien Ruins

"And thank you for flying with the AU Air Force," the shuttle's pilot said over the PA, just as the Gleesman settled down on it's landing legs. "Please disembark in an orderly fashion and remember, you're safe when you fly with AUAF."

"Three stars for no inflight service," Captain Schembri replied through his facemask as he got his gear bag and M-17 out of it's stowage. The seats were also stripped down to the bare plastic, unusual for a Gleesman. Unfortunately, the planet's various bacteria and prokaryotes loved to ruin any human upholstry. It didn't help that there wasn't a chance to clean them off in the short jaunt between the base and the landing pad.

"We said safe, not comfortable, sir," the pilot remarked as he continued his post-flight checklist.

"Yeah, yeah," Caleb said, shaking his head as he walked out of the shuttle. The ruins were set on the mountainous terrain of Bohemond's second continent, a thousand miles or so from Base Alpha. The shuttle had parked in a nearby valley, which meant they had a little bit of a hike to get to their location. "Come on, everyone. Let's get out of the nice pilot's hair."

Patrick nervously drummed his fingers on his S-87 and reached for his right foot to adjust the boot knife that was stored there. He then made a noise that sounded like he trying to talk while gargling salt water before standing up and throwing Jessica's bag over his shoulder. Taking several quick breathes he shuffles out of the shuttle and into the sun. "Right... lets hurry this up then."

Jessica wasn't far behind, cause he had her bag, you know? She watched him as he had his little panic attack, tapping a finger against the cheek of her visor, looking out at the light. She followed him, keeping quiet until they were fully out of the shuttle. "If it makes you feel better, it took me 3 hours to leave my house," She said happily, skipping a couple times in the sun. "I wouldn't be so much worried about the sun as I would be the microbiology that has been staining and damaging basically anything cloth exposed to the atmosphere," She added happily.

Elizabeth crawled out of the shuttle, armed to the absolute teeth and seeming to be loving it. From all reports she didn't even need that many guns, but damn did it feel good to have them. "Yeah, the sun won't kill you," she nudged Patrick's shoulder, "at least it won't kill us, it's the germs ya gotta look out for." She chuckled as she marched forward, eyes scanning their surroundings. "For the most part at least."

Arachne snorted, "If the germs don't kill you, the jokes the bunch of you keep telling will. On a more serious note, please don't touch, eat, or drink anything unless I tell you it's safe to do so. If you die- whatever- if you get the entire ship sick with an alien disease that none of us have any immunity towards I will personally create a vaccine that also gives you all the worst STI's I can think of that won't also kill you." By her tone she was joking- but the look on her face seemed a little more serious, "I cannot stress hard enough how important it is that you do not eat or drink anything that wasn't brought by us. If you drop it- the five second rule doesn't exist. It doesn't exist. Don't touch it. Are we clear?" She shifted her attention to Elizabeth to single her out specifically, "I'm looking at you, Captain. You seem like the sort of woman who follows the 'five second rule."

"Look, I'm from New Texas, we're not worried about things like that there." Eliza was more than willing to stare back in defiance. "If you think I'm dumb enough to eat the leftovers from goddamn millennia ago on an alien planet, best think otherwise Archie." Aha, a new nickname revealed itself. Saved on the syllables. "Alternatively, no better way to get an immunity than getting sick. I'll live, but y'all of lesser constitution might wanna be wary."

Arachne snorted, "If you'd really like to prove yourself correct, by all means. I hope you like being quarantined." She nearly cringed at the nickname, but she wasn't about to show weakness like that in front of a New Texan, "I would also advise against telling an immunologist the best way to get immunity against something. Some diseases will just kill you outright."

Eliza smelled a bitch ass nerd, and she couldn't help but smirk. "Mmmhmm, I'm aware. Had one of those too, but I was too damn stubborn to die. Get used to that, I'll be here a while." She shrugged her shoulders, the weight of the guns practically nothing to her. "That's not to say, again, that I intend to drink their leftover alien space milk. That's just a bad idea."

Arachne smelled bullshit, but she smiled anyway- nothing wrong with a little bit of banter - "Whatever makes you feel safe, Captain. Just as long as you don't 'drink the alien space milk'."

She narrowed her eyes good-naturedly at Archie. "You can't tell me what to do, I'm a big girl."

"While I appreciate the lesson on drinkin' space milk can we please get 'er moving?" Patrick shouts. He hated waiting around with the sun slowly piercing the shade that he was taking shelter in.

"I have a feeling," Jessica said, having started next to Patrick, "she's going to get sick and demand no one remind her we told her she was going to get sick," she said, shaking her head, but still sounding cheerful. "Oh well!"

"I already said I'm not drinking the space milk Ms. Too Much Brains, Not Enough Expereince." Eliza rolled her eyes, and seeing as how these people were too weak to lead, all standing here jawing, she moved forward first. "Someone get Ocean Man an umbrella for his delicate complexion, or we can watch a fish evaporate. Come on, burning daylight." Shouldering her two weapons, she moved forward, speaking back to Captain Schembri. "Come on Captain, get your nerds under control, drive 'em like cattle, we got history to gawk at."

Jessica leaned towards Patrick. "I think she's over compensating for a powerless childhood," she hissed loudly, like she was trying to whisper.

"Least I had one." Eliza didn't need to say anything else.

"I think you might wanna try lowering your voice if you're tryna whisper." He checks if Eliza is listening still before whispering "But you might be onto something." He resumes to his normal speaking voice "But the Captain is correct we better start movin'. " Taking a deep breath Patrick steps into the sun and motions to Schembri that's he's ready to move.

"I kinda like the noise," Caleb said, smiling as he started walking up the trail to the ruins. "This planet was way too quiet before the ruins were found and you guys showed up. The previous scientists were too busy to talk, nothing for us soldiers to do, et cetera. Now, we got stuff to do. So, let's go do it."

After a short hike up the hill, a small pass opened up into another valley, though this one was full of the detritus of an ancient civilization. The aesthetics of the anomalies the group had worked with could be seen in the ruins themselves, with broken walls of marble and bent columns of bronze dotting the area. There was a cleared lane from the pass through the middle of the valley, which led to the last standing building in the ruins, a large bunker-like building whose marble facade was mostly chipped away to reveal onyx-like superstructure. A vertiable mob of scientists were swarming around the structure, with a smaller number of soldiers pulling double duty of making sure the scientists didn't hurt themselves and keeping guard against the unlikely event of an attack.

"Alright, try and stay together, buddy system!" Eliza started gently shouting orders to her group. "End of day you gotta be at the shuttle or I will hunt you down and carry you home, I'm not losing nerds today. I get y'all can get lost in your passions, but do it in moderation." She smirked, looking over the grand structure with an unknowing shrug. This was the nerd's field, and she was there to make sure they survived and didn't do anything lethally stupid.

Patrick looks at the bunker and gives a puzzeled look. He's never seen anything this complex and didn't understand why there was this blatant waste of resources towards architecture. He looks at some of the bronze columns and whistles. These would be great if they were melted down and used for submarine propellers. "Right we're supposed to try and open that thing Captain?" He points towards the Bunker.

"That's the idea," Caleb said, patting his gear bag. "Got 007 in here, so once we're all good to go, we'll try to get in there."

"Ah-huh. I'd assume so." Arachne squinted at the bunker, "Not that I'm a bunker expert or anything. I assume you- ah - New Texans always come strapped with explosives, no? I bet your underwear is made of the plastic stuff." She snickered, "Just try not to make too much of a mess. It's hard to take samples if you vaporize them all. Shaped, please."

Eliza smirked, pleased someone was willing to fire back at her. Wasn't as much fun when they just cried. She locked eyes with Archie, trapping her in a conversation. "I didn't bring my grenade collection today, but I'll sure as heck give it a go on our next visit. Because if there's one thing this collection of nerds needed it's more explosions."

"Don't get my words confused, Captain. I love explosions just as much as the next officer- I do, however, enjoy being able to do my job more. You'll have to remember to bring that collection. Next time, perhaps?" Arachne raised her eyebrows as she moved her hands onto her hips, "Although, If it means we get inside, I can wait for samples."

"I will admit I didn't realize I should have actually brought it, Captain Caleb over here," she shoved a thumb in the boss' direction, "never mentioned we had to break in." She shrugged, seemingly dissapointed. "Had I known, I'd have absolutely brought more explosions. Explosions are a girl's best friend."


"If you look at the bunker," Caleb said, pointing at a few places where there were perfect holes in the marble facade, "there've been some attempts at breaching it with shaped charges. Didn't pierce the black armor-layer, whatever it is. If we get desperate, we could try a nuke, but then we'd have to evacuate the area. Hopefully our little anomaly can open it up."

"Yeah, we got the magic key, so we'll be fine." She shrugged. "And if not we make more nerds touch magic science things until we get an answer."

Patrick rolls his eyes. "Well someone had to touch it. Seems clear to me that the scientists were too yellow-bellied to try."

She smirked again, nodding to Patrick. "Well luckily you had the balls to touch the unknown magic science things without caution."

"Right, next time we stumble across somethin' I'll let the nerds handle it then. You don't need to tell me twice. I ain't dying for some 'alien research'. "

"Look at you, you're smart." She chuckled. "Let an intern do it or something, isn't that why y'all have those?"

Patrick shrugs "I don't see any interns that the science team brought along so sadly it looks like the only guinea pigs here is you and me."

Eliza nodded as if considering something. "Well Ocean Man, you've already proven to be so dedicated to the pursuit of science I'll let you take the first shot."

"Oh but where's the honor in not letting others share in my 'glorious' scientific discovery? Seems like you're a bit chicken when it comes to this line of work. Where's that fiery New Texan attitude that I hear so many rumors about?"

"This ain't my line of work honey. My line of work is combat and boarding pirate ships, you're the egghead, you touch the magic stones." She gave a single upward nod, in less refined cultures a non-verbal way to say what she said anyway. "Do it, no balls."

As the team bickered it's way to the bunker, the various conversations between the other scientists and soldiers became clearer.

Doctor Rose wasn't there for the science really, and merely happy to simply look after those under their medical perview. Having gotten straight to setting up a medical tent by the alien bunker with all their needed supplies, what remained was paperwork at the moment. Packet after packet on their pad, the doctor looked over all the dossiers. One caught the doctor's attention though, for particular reason.

The sheer damn thickness of it metaphorically, which caused a pause in brief awe. A young woman by the name of Jessica, who's file read like a medical nightmare novella. "Where the hell do they pick people like this?", Marlene said to themselves in a just dumbfounded manner.

A snake-like figure, wrapped in camouflage clothing that would resemble a ghillie suit with various local foliages such as long tall grasses tied onto it, quickly but silently slithered to the front of the bunker. At first, the snake-like figure watched the numerous scientists going about on their businesses as they busily studied the structure, before silently heading toward what looked like a med-bay. Slithering inside silently, the snake-like figure watched who she figured was the Doctor Rose and reached for her pocket. Pulling out a wooden stick, the snake-figure slowly and carefully slithered to the back of the unsuspecting doctor, before she quickly jumped at the back of the Doctor Rose, making few playful stabbing motions with her stick as if she was killing him before placing a large grin on her face.

“Ha! You’re dead, doc!”

Throwing the stick away, 1st Lt. Young playfully proclaimed, telling Doctor Rose how she could have stabbed him to death without anybody in the base camp noticing it as she took a sit at the nearby chair.

Marlene jumped with an indignant feminine squeal, immediately vacating their seat with surprising speed and distance. They turned around wide eyed at the large serpentine woman who had poked them. "Your not suppose to give the doctor a heart attack! I can't fix myself you know.", Marlene exclaimed on their adrenaline high.

"What...is it...you need? Or were you..just trying to scare the dickens out of me?", They added as they caught their breath, hands placed on their notable hips in annoyance.

One of the soldiers walked up to the group, saluting his superior officers as he introduced himself, "Leutnant zur See Daniel Marcelo, sirs."

"At ease," Captain Schembri replied, returning the salute. "Any injuries today?"

"Nothing too serious, sir," Marcelo said, settling into parade rest. "Usual scrapped knees and the like from zealous archeologists."

"Civilians, am I right," Caleb said, shaking his head as he rooted through his gear bag. "Hopefully we'll keep them busy if this works," he continued, pulling out the anomaly's box.

Marcelo frowned as he looked at the box. "We sure we have to deal with that? Sir?" he asked. "Never have liked the things."

"Not to worry, Leutnant zur See," Captain Schembri replied, securing his bag again as he walked to the bunker. "I'll be handling the anomaly. My subordinates did all the hard work for me yesterday."

Patrick rubs his right hand and scoffs "Yer welcome for that by the way."

After opening the box and setting it on the ground, he put on a pair of heat-resistant gloves and pulled out A-007, holding it with his right hand by the green gem and his left between the yellow and purple gems. The red central gem blinked on for a few seconds, before it dimmed and the green sapphire started blinking on and off.

"Got it's ready state," Caleb said, starting to walk around the bunker until reaching a small divot in the marble facade. When brought close, the anomaly's gems blinked together a couple of times, before returning to just the green gem blinking. "Well, that's progress," he said, pausing in front of the divot for a moment before holding it right against the marble.and closing his eyes.

"Uh, sir?" Marcelo asked, looking between the superior officer and the anomaly. "Are you alright?"

"Shh," Captain Schembri replied, keeping his eyes closed for a few more moments before all of the gems on the anomaly flashed on and a section of the bunker slowly pushed out, causing the scientists to scatter.

"Huh," the Leutnant said, looking at the anomaly. "So, what'd you do?"

"Short version?" Caleb said, smiling as the new entrance of the bunker lit up. "I thought 'Open sesame'."

Eliza had been in awe of the power of science, until he stated exactly what his thought process was. She sputtered and laughed, giggling happily. "You thought open sesame? You are, probably, the most brillant man I've ever been stuck on a dead planet with." She shook her head, peeking into the bunker. "Open seasame', beautiful."

The inside of the structure was alive with lights, so many that Earthers would have thought they were at a rave if there was a matching technobeat. Symbols floated in the air, their variey of colors putting most rainbows to shame. And in the center of the room, was a perfect rendition of the planet, so detailed that it was better than looking at it from orbit.

Elizabeth squinted at the light, letting her sight balls adjust to the change in scenery. She walked into the bunker, letting a childlike smile of wonder move across her face. "Now that's a sight alright. "

Patrick was idly examining a piece of bronze that was laying on the ground before a massive bright light drew his attention. Turning to the beautiful color show that erupted from the bunker he stood in shock "Just like jellyfish..." He touches the copper pin and sighs. If only his hab could see this.

"Well," Caleb said, looking around as he walked deeper into the bunker, "I'd said this was worth the trip and all the effort. Hey, Jessica, do you think this enough for you to get started on... Uh, Captain Bakarra? Technical Sergeant Turner? Where is Dr. Grey?"

"Jessie was hanging off the Ocean Man," Eliza tossed back, "last I saw her. Find Ocean Man, find Jessie."

"Har har very funny." Patrick looks around searching before looking back to the Captains confused "Uh where'd she go? I assumed she'd stay close to her bag."

"Goddamnit Ocean Man I thought you'd be keeping an eye on her, way she was basically attached to you." Eliza huffed, growing worried and looking around. Damnit, day one and there was a nerd AWOL. "I gotta do everything myself don't I?" Eliza turned from the magical science thing and strutted out of the bunker, taking a breath and yelling at the top of her lungs. "JESSIE! SUIT GIRL!" Eliza screamed a voice that had the power to echo past her mask and out to the canyon. "DON'T MAKE ME FIND YOU DOING SOMETHING WEIRD OR I WILL NEVER LET YOU FORGET IT!"

"Last time I saw her was right before we went down into this valley. I'm willing to backtrack after her and try and find her if you need me to Captain," Patrick said.

"Do that, Sergeant," Caleb replied, shaking his head as he walked out of the bunker. "Hopefully she'll pick up from her radio," he said, keying his comm. "Dr. Grey, this is Captain Schembri. Can you hear me, over?"

"Hi!" Jessica's voice blasted over the radio, her voice disfigured by static. "I fo---" The line was taken over by static for a few moments, "- In a c--- coming back!" Despite the static and inturruptions, she was positively giddy. "-azing! You have to see it!"

Eliza, honestly, was relieved the kid at least seemed alive. "Damnit kid if you want to walk off at least take someone with you. Get back here, you can tell us all about it."

"I--- hear--- cave---" Jessica's voice responded. "Fine--- Back!"

Caleb shook his head and said, "Split up, I'll go back the way we came, see if she's that way."


Arachne squished the bridge of her nose between her pointer and thumb, "Leave it to the fucking bubble girl to run off into a cave by herself. Hasn't that girl ever watched any horror movies? That's where all the crazy viruses always come from in movies." She leaned back and stretched out to relieve the tension in her back- creating loud enough pops that anyone in the immediate vicinity could hear them quite clearly, "Im going to assume she said 'I can't hear you, I'm in a cave." and "Fine, I'm coming back."

"Jessica, if you're not back here in the next fifteen minutes, I'm asking the cleaning crew to enter your quarters. Without gloves."

"Stupid kid entering stange caves. That's how you get a bad case of xenomorphs damnit." She got back on coms, directly aimed at Jessica but everyone could hear. "Jessi, I will take my shoes off in your room if you aren't back in 15 minutes. Caves are where aliens live waiting for people to put eggs inside, have you never watched any alien movie?" Eliza groaned, and stood waiting for Jessica. She stood stock still, waiting, watching, a scowl on her face.

"Woah, woah- you're supposed to scare her a little, not give her a heartattack. No shoes in her room? Are you a monster?" Arachne gasped, "I wouldn't want your bare feet in my room either, sasquatch. Who knows what sort of sapient fungi are living between your toes."

Eliza turned to smirk back at Arachne, chuckling. "Excuse you, but I'm very hygenic." Her eyes shifted to the side. "For the most part." She aimed a stiff middle finger in the doctor's direction. "Only reason I'm ever not wearing boots is if I intend to stay awhile, and hell knows there's nothing in your room I want." She narrowed her eyes, smiling. "Unless you think you can convince me otherwise."

"Oh, you mean like my antique gun collection?" Arachne mused, as she placed her hands onto her hip. She looked just a little too pleased on herself.

Eliza narrowed her eyes, staring intently at Arachne. She seemed like she was wondering very hard if she was being screwed with or not. "Do... you have an antique gun collection?"

"Perhaps, Captain. Perhaps. Not that it matters at the moment." Arachne tilted her head to the side and furrowed her brow- looking just a tad on the impatient side, "Perhaps we'll have time to talk about it when we aren't waiting to find out if Jessica can make it out here on her own. Caves can be quite dangerous. Especially for someone who I assume to be quite the opposite of athletic."

Eliza really seemed like she didn't want to drop the subject of the antique gun collection, as possibly fictional as it was, but she took it in stride. "You're not escaping this convo forever Spider-girl, I will find out if you're holding out on me." She turned back to her sentry duty, sighing. "We did give her 15 minutes, she's probably doing everything she can to spend 14 minutes there and 1 minute to leave. You know, like a kid."

"Hi Elizabeth!" Jessica said, making Eliza look down at the ground. Jessica was holding onto some lichen, her body over a ledge with her legs kicking just above the ledge below. "I seem to have misjudged my ability to climb over this ledge! Could you be a friend and help me?" She asked in her cheerful voice.

Eliza looked down suddenly at the kid doctor's struggles, watching her pathetically attempt to perform feats of athleticism that... god it should have been easy. This kid was thinner than a string bean with the strength of a one straw scarecrow. "Damnit kid you had us worried." She crossed her arms, still looking over Jess' valiant struggles. "Jessie, if you're gonna go do some spontaneous shit, take a friend, that's all I ask."

"I found a spider!" Jessica said happily, lifting one arm to point back where she came from, losing her grip and falling off the ledge with an 'oof'. When she stood back up, she was a good chest over the ledge. "It's really cool! There's also a super deep settlement underground over here that you might wanna see, but the spider is like, way more important. It's like, THIIIIIIIIIIIIIS Big!" She cheered holding out her arms before running off again with an awkward, inexperinced gait.

"Damnit Jess I oughta put a bell on you." Eliza sighed, hopping on comms, and looking directly back at Arachne. "Spider-girl, tell the Captain, despite me being on comms... fuck." She groaned, and just talked over the comms system. "Found kid, she found thing, send nerds over the small ridge." With absolutely zero effort she hopped the ledge safely, and started power-walking after Jessie to catch up with her. "Buddy system, it's been a thing for millenia, it's not that hard," she muttered to herself, though it didn't matter much as she was still on comms, "you go alone, you get eaten by a dinosaur and no one sees you again. At least if you have a buddy, they can tell your family how bad it was."

As Eliza caught up to Jessica, the ledge ended at the entrance to a wide cave, which was nearly pitch black, except for a dull golden light that outlined a circular bronze door.

"Did we find Jessica yet?" Patrick yells before turning the corner and finding Eliza and Jess safe and sound. "Oh good yer' all in one piece still." Patrick looks past the pair to the gold light eminating from behind the door and looks back to Jessica "The hell's that?"

"I found a spider!" She said, continuing her awkward run.

"She found a spider," Eliza confirmed, still walking after Jessica.

"A spider? What's a spider?" Patrick gives a confused expression. "Is it like a kind of pet or something?"

Eliza saw the chance to be a cheeky bitch, and by gawd she went for it. "It's an eight legged monster with eight eyes and fangs and stingers that captures people in giant webs and they suck the juice out of them, and not in a fun way. Hopefully there's just one." She didn't look back at Patrick, because then he'd be able to see the mischevious smile on her face, but she kept her voice even enough.

Patrick seemed fixated on the 'eight legs' part of the whole speal. "Eight legs? So like a crab? And if so do they taste as good as crabs?" He looks off into the distance while thinking of a delicious crab stew and didn't appear to register the rest of statement.

"Spiders are an Arachnid," Jessica said, looking over her shoulder. "Crabs are Crustations. Also, crabs have six legs and two claws, while spiders have eight legs," She explained, leading them deeper into the bunker. "This is about where I lost radio contact entirely, but my suits systems told me there was something further down so I just continued following it. Eliza isn't very far off what I found though!" She added happily. "It's like, THIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIS BIG!" She said, turning around and holding out her arms as wide as she could, stumbling a little in the process.

Eliza's eyes widened, considering for a second the potential of a giant spider down here. It did fit with the 'don't go in alien caves' theory. "First off, focus on moving or you're gonna bust your hull on a stalagmite, second, I really hope you suddenly learned how to use your imagination."

"Nope!" Jessica said, "Just my brain! I found the door, and it wouldn't open, but then I looked at the glyphs on the terminal and realized, hey, you know, this is just a dialect of Aos Si! So I did a little context based analytics, made a quick reference graph, and found the open button! Absolute childsplay, there was like, no security on this door which told me nothing in there could be dangers cause, I mean, who doesn't lock up dangerous stuff, right?" She giggled as she started opening a door.

Patrick looks at Eliza and gives a worried expression that tries to convey 'Are we really going to follow her down a deep dark pit and maybe die?'

Eliza looked back at Patrick, herself suddenly seeming far more serious than she'd been the entire trip. She rolled her shoulders, feeling the comfort of her unfair amount of guns on her person, before sighing. "The others are on their way, I basically ordered Spider Girl to make sure they came with us. Better than the kid going in on her own."

Patrick sighs and shrugs. This seemed like a really bad idea but it would be disgraceful to leave someone behind. He checks his shotgun to make sure a shell is chambered before continuing onward.

As the group pulled the door open, the golden light took on a sickly shade of green. Once fully opened, it was clear that the unsettling light came from a series of large bulbs hanging just below the ceiling. The lights illuminated a wide vault dug out of the dark black basalt that made up the hill's foundations. In contrast with the surface bunker's opulence and variety of colors, the vault was more utilitarian, with flickering floor to ceiling displays that seemed to outline a vast complex below them, the strange glyphs that were on the anomalies, Aos Si according to Dr. Grey, seeming to list the status of various systems. Off to the side, almost as an afterthought, was a clear crystal that contained a giant spider-like alien. Looking like a five foot long cross between a black widow and a tarantula, it's body was covered with bristles, either black or a dark green, it was difficult to tell in the vault's lighting. Emerging from it's head were four pincers, with two large eyelid-less eyes just above its maw. Smaller white discs ringing the head could have been any number of things. Eyes, ears? Further along, it's body was held up by six legs, it's three foot height augmented with a bronze colored mechanical undercarriage that it was strapped into. At it's end, it had another pair of pincers, though these were much longer than their front facing counterparts.


"See look!" Jessica said once they got into the room of interest, running up to the stasis tube and throwing her arms out as if being a gameshow girl showing off a fabulous prize. "Spider! Stuck in this big tube! It's absolutely fantastic!" She said, pressing her visor right up against the field like a kid looking at the lobsters in the grocery store. "Since I found it, do I get to name it?" She asked, looking back at Eliza and Patrick. "I mean, it's clearly not human! Or from earth! I wonder if it's sentient?!"

"If it's sentient, doesn't that mean they have a name for themselves?" Eliza questioned, eyeing the giant spider warily.

"In a language we probably would not be able to replicate," Jessica said, looking back at the spider. "They likely don't have the biology to make audible sounds we could reproduce, which means I get to come up with the english name!"

Patrick looks at the strange creature stuck in the weird tube and wipes the glass of his mask just to make sure he wasn't seeing things. "Huh so it doesn't look like a crab..." It stills looked like good eating but he was gonna have to wait for that one. "So what would you want to call this... thing?"

"I feel like coming up with names for other sentient life is probably a bad idea, but on the other hand I can't wait to hear what they weird little mind of yours comes up with." Eliza conceded.

"I was thinking Jessica OctoSpindileggius" Jessica said happily, starting to look at the various panels that were showing all sorts of strange symbols. "It looks like their number system is similar to the root Aos Si, but some of these glyphs have changed due to deviation from the root. It shouldn't be too hard to figure it out though," She said, continuing to examine the panels.

"What about Jessie's Octpider? Hmm, no." Eliza had no idea what the panels meant, so she was gonna leave that to the nerd. What she could do was brainstorm names. "The Jespider. The Giant Leggy Boy. Jessica's Spindle Spider. Eh, that sounds like a brand name, not sur about that one."

"I like my name," Jessica said. "It'll go in the textbooks, your names can go on internet articles on cool aliens," She said happily without turning away from the screen.

"I can live with that." Eliza nodded, and really she could.

"Dr. Grey? Captain Bakarra? Sergeant Turner? You guys down there?" Captain Schembri's voice came from the tunnel.

"Aye captain we're here!" Patrick yells towards Schembri. "So far so good we're all still alive so that counts for something."

"That's good to hear," Caleb said as he turned the corner.

"Jessie wasn't kidding, she found a literal giant spider on a planet y'all said had no life." She raised her eyebrows at the Captain. "So that's a thing." She was still keeping an eye on the spider, arms at her side in case something went wrong.

"She what?" he said, before turning towards the alien and blinking a few times. "Uh, yeah. The most advanced thing on this rock is, was, algae. Where the fuck did this thing come from?" he asked, walking to the crystaline tube, the rest of the group walking in behind him. "Guess this could be the species that brought life here? Don't know how it could have survived for thousands of years, but I guess that's just another anomaly for the list. Though, I guess that's an assumption. Do we know if this guy is alive?"

"So does anyone want to explain wh-....oh gods, that's a big bug." Came the medical doctor's words, stopping short before taking in the spooder in a tube. The pink haired woman? Looked up at it in awe, finding that to not be what they had been expecting to see on this trip.

"Stasis," Jessica said, flipping through menus like it was some kind of datapad. "It's alive, but this is a level of stasis technology that is so far beyond our understanding I don't think I could explain it... Or anyone could explain it, really," She said, pointing. "This says there is still life, the field hasn't failed and their weird way of saying life support is still active," She said, moving to another panel. "There is probably an indication of how long they've been in these pods?" She asked. "I mean... I can probably find a time if I look long enough..."

"Well, keep at it," Caleb said, lightly kicking the crystal. It rang like a bell, echoing off the basalt walls of the vault a few times, before the echo died down to an inaudible range. "Huh, pretty. Anyway, would be good to know how long they've been in there before we try and let them out. Maybe it has an expiration date or something. For all we know, this guy's been down here since before our ancestors came down from the trees."

Arachne stumbled in behind the group- having spent some time trying to gather soil samples before following in behind the rest of the group. She was, of course, there to do a job beyond bantering with Elizabeth.

"Holy shit." She spat out, "When you said giant spider I thought perhaps you meant large. Hand sized or larger." She moved in closer to get a better look, without getting so close she was outright touching anything, "I am delighted to be wrong. There's so much to document here. I'd suggest getting tissue samples, but I don't think we're exactly prepared or equipped to wake them up."

"Jessica, you beautiful- wonderful child. This is quite the find."

Eliza chuckled at the nerds all fawning over the discorvery, and partly the kid, and even if she wasn't outwardly all that jazzed, she had to admit, this was... something else. Something she could get put in a history book for. Granted it would be a footnote, a trivia question, but she didn't need a chapter dedicated to her. Though, it would be cool. She did have a few concerns however. "Maybe we shouldn't wake it up. Probably a reason it's trapped, if this whole setup was made by them Elves."

She huffed, crossing her arms in a worried manner. The concept of a giant spider was cool in theory, but in practice it was a troublesome thought. There before them was a literal giant spider, capable of wo knows what, trapped for apparently millenia. Trapped for unknown reasons. Eliza might not be terribly book smart, but she knew a thing or two about poking the metaphorical bear. "Archie, maybe we document what we can before waking the most comon fantasy enemy besides goblins. It's one of the hallmarks of danger, up there with goblins, dragons, and rich douchebags, right next to them is giant spiders."

"Yes. That's literally what I said. We don't need to wake it up. Lizzy." Arachne squinted briefly at Elizabeth, before setting her dufflebag of nerd gear onto the ground.

"Well excuse me," Eliza squinted her eyes back at Arachne, "I'm putting it in laymans terms then, Archie. It's real easy, don't wake the ancient spider up."

"Whatever you say, Veronica." The Scientist snorted.

Eliza shook her head, shrugging. "I don't get the reference," she said, just before cracking a smile, "but I'll take it as a complement."

Arachne, momentarily, looked almost offended, "Look it up. Later, of course."

Marlene had stepped around to the side a bit to look at the spider more, smart pad clutched firmly as if for their own assurance. "That's such a precious name, very cute. Though are we sure it's safe, or you know....friendly? I would hope it's disposition matches such an adorably given name."

"I'm still going to na-" Jessica said to answer Arachne before she went silent. "Oh no..." She whispered, starting to hit different runes and move around what she could see. "Oh no Oh no Oh no!" She said, actual panic starting to tinger her default cheerful voice. "Nope, no time to wait, sorry!" She said, hitting a few more runes and a loud crack rang through the bunker as a large crack shot up the crystal tube. She took a few steps back to stand in front of the tube, her hands held up in front of her chest nervously. "The system... Was going to kill it..." She said as the cracks spread and the crystal tube shattered.

Eliza suddenly stopped being a jovial jokester, in a instant switching to danger mode. She pulled her assault rifle from her shoulder in seconds, aiming it at the crystal tube as it shattered. Her voice was a far cry from it's usual dry, witty, almost-drawl, now an intimidating, commanding bark to everyone around her. It was time for action, and the nerds needed protection. "Get back, all of you!"

The spider-like alien dropped a couple of inches to the floor with a thud, a loud hiss coming from the Spindileggius as it shook off the remaining crystal and backed up until it touched the wall of the vault. Feeling more secure, it turned it's head to look at the gathered humans, before settling on Captain Bakarra, it's pincers clicking together as it crouched, raising it's abdomen into the air.

"No wait!" Jessica said, getting in the way of Eliza and the Spindileggius. "He just woke up! You're going to point guns at it?" She asked scoldingly, before turning around and crouching down to be more on it's level, hugging onto her legs, then she held up her hands to show they were empty, letting it have time to see her before holding out a hand palm down and fingers relaxed. "He's kinda cute..."

"Dr. Grey," Caleb said, holding his own rifle at the ready as he put himself between the rest of the civilians and the alien, "Please, back off. We don't know what it's going to do."

The Spindileggius looked between Eliza and Jessica, alternating between a hiss and a buzz before shooting a thick strand of silk out of its abdomen at the nearest corner of the vault and pulling itself up to the ceiling. From its higher vantage point, it hissed at the Captain, before looking at the smaller woman.


"No no no!" She said, looking at Eliza and trying to pull down the barrel of her gun, pathetically. "He's scared! You're more likely to cause an event by pointing a weapon at it than you are by putting your weapons down!" She said, looking back at the Spider thing. "We need to communicate with non-threatening body language. Universal actions," She said, turning back to the spider and holding out her arms, wiggling her hands as if trying to coax it towards her.

Growling under her breath, Eliza's weapon trailing the spider with precision, her eyes never left it even as Jessie fought for the spider's life. "Kid, that thing is bigger than two of us and moves like a flash." She huffed, worried about the entire situation.

"And is running away from us," Jessica said. "It knows if it fights, we win. We need to show it we don't want a fight. Put the gun down..." She said, her cheerful voice gone. "We have the advantage."

Eliza looked up at the spider, only breaking her gaze to look down at Jessica with a stern worry. She looked back up at the spider, trying to find some semblance of intellegence in those eyes, something that corroborated Jessie's theory. Her finger slipped off the trigger, and she let the barrel fall to point at the ground. "It makes a sudden move at you, it's eating lead for it's last meal." She muttered darkly, not taking her eyes off the beast.

Patrick was ready to blast a golf sized hole in the spider before Jessica began talking about 'Positive and Universal actions' which really confused him but seeing that the Captain lowered her weapon he did the same. He made sure that his boot knife was secured and ready to go. Just in case.

"Smart talking, Jessica," Arachne spoke up, "If any of you idiots blast any holes in our new friend here, you're going to be hearing from probably at least two seperate ethics committees. Granted, yeah, kiddo. If our arachnid friend here makes any swipes at us- you especially- I will be assisting with putting them down. I can take samples from a corpse, not that I would like to." Arachne shrugged, eyes following the giant spider, "Try talking to it. That's what you're here for, anyway. I'll avoid poking it with needles until we establish clear communication. Or it is dead."

"The ethics committees can suck my ass if they're gonna say that thing is more important than Jessie or the rest of us," Eliza growled. She wouldn't take her eyes off the beast, and even if it did have some sort of higher intellegence she wouldn't trust it as far as she could throw it, which was probably only slightly farther than everyone else here could throw it. "So keep your needles down, I keep the lead in the chamber, and Jessie suddenly is the best talker we have." This entire situtation was a special brand of nutty.

The pink haired doctor gave an indignant squeak as the spider like being zipped by to the corner. They fell on their rear in shock, suddenly very regretful of not having brought their sidearm. The pain in their skirt covered rear, was a stiff eye opener as the situation grew so intense. "I'm sure Dr. Grey is right that we shouldn't be hasty I agree. Peaceful resolutions are preferable over one bringing harm," Marlene said with as steady a voice as possible, pulling themselves up as they spoke. "See Mr. Spindileggius, were not going to hurt you, and I r-really don't want to."

Nudging closer towards Jessica, Marlene leaned over to quietly ask, "Are we uh, sure...that's a he?"

"What part of stay back don't y'all understand?" Eliza growled, still facing the beast. "Peaceful solutions are all well and good until the other guys decide they're not gunning for peace."

The spider-like alien turned its head at Marlene's clumsy display, clicking its pincers as it buzzed. Seeing that no scary tubes were pointed in its direction, the Spindileggius slowly lowered itself to the floor, landing with a click onto its bronze undercarriage. As its aft pincers snipped the silk off it's abdomen, the alien looked at Jessica for a few moments. It then bowed its head and spread its mouth pincers wide, pincers held together. Then, glancing between Eliza and the other gun toting personnel, it took a couple of slow steps forward.

"See?" Jessica asked rhetorically, crouching down and taking a few equally slow steps forward. "He's just super confused. He doesn't want to hurt anyone," She said, continuing to move forward until she could touch it, or, it did something to make her back away. "Don't shoot it... Seriously, don't shoot it."

"God, Jessie I'm not a fucken robot, if I don't need to shoot it I won't." Eliza growled, though the validity of that statement was in question as she was still staring at the spider, just waiting to see if it did something dangerous.

The Spindileggius let Dr. Grey get as close as she liked, just emitting a low hiss from, now that she was close enough to notice, were coming from the hairs on the alien's upper mouth pincers. When the pair were face to face, the spider tilted it's head to the side, as if asking, "What now?"

Jessica reached out slowly, and gently placed her hand on the spiders head, running it across the fur. "See? If he wanted to kill me, I'd be dead at this point," She said, turning to look at the rest of the group.

"Yeah, that's real comforting to hear." Patrick says sarcastically.

It was a dark thought, but New Texas had taught her that a lot of things could kill you, and some didn't want to. You had to figure which was which and plan your vacation accordingly. Even still, something inside her was desperately anxious to see the kid so close to the massive spider. It could just rip the kid apart, and Eliza had no reason to believe it wouldn't change it's mind suddenly. After all, it was probably real hungry after all this time.

The spider slowly moved one of its upper pincers and tapped Jessica's helmet a couple of times before resting it on her shoulder, its high pitched hiss turning into a low hum as it's sound was tranferred into the suit.

Jessica looked back at the Spider when it started tapping on her, tilting her head. "Yes, I'm in a suit. I can hear you," She said, continuing to pet the spider comfortingly, before starting to walk backwards again, ushering it to follow her. "I'm not gonna hurt you, okay? Just come with me, and we can see you outside. I know you can't understand me, but I think talking too you is good. You can hear I'm not going to hear you," She said, continuing to pointlessly babble as she tried to lead the spider through the group and into the tunnel leading back up to the surface. The Spindileggius followed along, keeping pace with her as it hummed an arpeggio through her suit.

"Dr...." Caleb started, before sighing and waving everyone else back. "Captain Bakarra and Sergeant Turner, follow behind them once they're in the tunnel."

"Didn't need to order it Captain." Eliza muttered. Maybe, just maybe this would work out fine, but she wouldn't let her guard down until it did. And then some. She waited for Jessie to lead the spider out of the tunnel, following some bit behind. Every chance she got, she made sure she had line of sight in case it pulled something that might get the kid hurt.

"You seriously need to follow Doctor up with a name," Arachne said. "There's... three doctors here on my last count. It's getting quite confusing as to whom you're talking to. You're in educated company, apparently," The DOCTOR (of Xenobiology) snorted, as she followed along behind the group. She snatched her dufflebag up off the ground on her way out, slowing down to fish her camera out from within.

"I would have specified a doctor if I was telling them to do something, Stabskapitän-leutnant," Caleb said, rolling his eyes as he followed along and gestured the rest of the group to follow. "Let's go and get to the bunker. Maybe there'll be something there explaining what's going on."

"Ah-huh. Nice cop-out answer, Captain." Arachne shrugged, choosing to drop the subject rather than push it any further- even for her own amusement.

For once Eliza didn't say anything snarky in response to the Captain or Arachne talking. She was silent, moving with practiced military step as she held her rifle like it was her lifeline to survival, following Jessica and the Spider. She wasn't taking her eyes off the spider, just waiting for something bad to happen.

As the group walked back out of the tunnel, their radios started to get a lot of static and few intelligible words. "Cap--- ---e're und--- ---ck!" said Leutnant Marcelo. "Sp---- ---me out of no--- ---treat ba--- ---oh fu---" Their radios then fell silent, but the direness of the situation was made clear by the sound of distant gunshots that greeted them when they were clear of the tunnel. The Spindileggius stopped, it's now visibly green hairs standing on their ends for a moment, before emmiting a short, but loud hiss, then shot it's silk up the mountain and started webslinging its way back to the bunker.

"Wait no!" Jessica yelled, running back after the Spider. "That's where the danger is!"

"Everyone, get up there," Captain Schembri said, pointing at the ledge they'd come down to get to the tunnel. "Shoot anything that comes at you if you have a gun. Civilians, get back to the shuttle. That includes you, Dr. Grey! Leutnant Marcelo, what are we up against?" he asked as he waited for the rest of the group to follow their orders, frowning as he got no response over the radio. "Leutnant, anyone still alive, please respond."


"Fuck." Eliza knew it, she'd had this feeling of unease in her gut since that beast crawled out of it's cage, and her worries were being proven true. The comms might have been breaking up, but she got enough to make some educated guesses, and it wasn't looking good so far. "Jessie!" And suddenly, Eliza's new first priority was talking sense into the kid, her voice carrying well even though comms were on. "You're not gonna catch up with it, only way to keep pace is get in the shuttle!" Eliza sprinted after her, reaching one arm out to grab Jessica's shoulder. "He's got a lot more chances of living than you do, so think with your head and get in the goddamn shuttle!"

"No!" Jessica shreiked, trying to pull out of Eliza's grasp, but the soldier just wrapped an arm around her waist, making Jessica start kicking and punching to try and get free. "No he's going to die! LET GO!" She screamed in a shrill, wild way as she continued to try and wriggle out of the arms of the woman several orders of magnitude stronger than herself.

The Spindileggius paused in it's climb, looking back at Dr. Grey and Captain Bakarra. It hissed, point at them with one pincer, then away from the bunker with the rest, before hopping over the summit and disappearing from view.

Eliza, for about half a second, was shocked. In no uncertain terms the spider had... fucken agreed with her! That wasn't just a trick of the light, and she was almost positive it wasn't her mind making stuff up. Holy shit, the spider was intelligent. At least enough to communicate. Now wasn't the time to think about it, as the kid in her grasp thrashed about like a nutcase outta their straightjacket. Without too much effort on her part Eliza tossed Jessica over her shoulder, held on tight, and started moving back to the shuttle, struggling against a flailing child every step of the way.

Arachne suddenly wished she had packed something a little bigger than a sidearm, "You have got to be kidding." She was quick to start into a sprint, although she was slowed down by her cumbersome Dufflebag. She definitely wasn't a soldier, but she was at least in decent shape for someone with such a paper-thin physique. She held onto her bag with one hand, and rested her other on her holster- lest she accidentally drop them both in her hurry, "Hold on tight to that girl, Captain."

"Well I wasn't planning on dropping her!" Eliza muttered, moving at a decent clip for a woman carrying two sidearms, an assult rifle, a normal rifle, and an entire child in a goddamn space suit. It helped that without the space suit a stiff breeze could carry the kid off, so the suit was practically a necessity for more reasons than expected. Kid probably would just float off without it, she was so thin.

Patrick takes a couple of seconds to process the utter craziness that is currently unfolding around him. For the past 30 minutes or so he's been following an iron maiden and a giant crab thing god knows where. He's on a desolate planet with no way back home which is now, most likely, under attack by said ''spindileggius's". But seeing that right now the best course of action is to try and get the fuck out rather than stay and discuss the complete insanity of the last few days he begins to hoof it back as well.

Marlene was largely quiet as their presence proved to be of little importance. But as everything started to go wrong, the medical doctor was quick to do as commanded with a frightened squeak. Pumping their slender yet shapely legs as they booked it towards the shuttle. Ducking aboard, they pulled something from the bag, before offering it to Eliza. "If she struggles too much, I can sedate her."

Eliza was honestly offended to have been offered help. Despite their mad dash to the shuttle, Eliza needed no assistance holding a child that barely qualified to be considered healthy. Actually that was probably what the suit was for, among other things. Muscles out, wearing more guns than any one soldier probably needed, at least subjectively, she turned to the medic with an annoyed look. "This kid weighs less than a sack of synthetic feed, I'm doing just fine. Don't run with needles doc, you'll put an eye out."

"Gee thanks for the advice mum, trust me I'm the most qualified to," The doctor answered with an eye roll, happy with the distraction from danger. Putting the hypo away, Marlene did her best to keep up as the group started climbing up the ledge to the main path.

"Oh-- please. Keep the needles-- away." Arachne breathed out, she shot an annoyed squint Marlene's way at the very suggestion- but was pretty quick to bringing her focus back to trying to catch her breath and not hyperventilate, "Remind me to hit the-- gym more frequently." She groaned, clearly feeling the burn from the group's sprint.

"Bet you didn't think sprinting would come up much when you got that doctorate huh?" Eliza allowed herself to tease, even as her face remained stony, looking over the horizon. The ledge, that would cause some problems for this united dash across open country. Eliza was strong, well trained, but even she was starting to feel some amount of fatigue.

Pure stubbornness was her current tactic, so when faced with a ledge she sped up, and lept. She wouldn't be able to clear the ledge, but she'd get her free arm over the top, and that was all she needed to start climbing. Straining with the weight of everything, guns, child in suit and her own admittedly fantastic body, she started hauling herself up the ledge.

Arachne looked at the ledge with indignation, but attacked it without verbal complaint. It was slow going for her, especially compared to someone as fit as Elizabeth- but she hit the ledge as hard as her lanky body could manage, "Well-- I got my PhD on the Navy's dime, and I'm a field researcher. So yes. Don't ask such-- dumb questions, Veronica."

Eliza, standing on the ledge now, held a hand down to Arachne to help her up. "Shut up Archie, you're wasting O2 you don't have the lung capacity for. Running takes breath, talking takes breath, pick one." She wasn't trying to be mean, it was sound advice, but Eliza was very much in a certain mode right now, face etched with stone and breathing hard herself. She was still helping though.

There wasn't much else Arachne could do other than accept Eliza's help, so once she was in reach she took her hand and used it to hoist herself up and over onto the main road, "I assure you, I can do both." She claimed, despite the fact that when she spoke she sounded like she was trying to hold her breath at the same time.

"Pick one Archie, or I'll have to carry you too." Eliza stated with some degree of fatigue to her voice, before turning around and rushing futher with the defeated child over her shoulder.

Once everyone else was up the ledge and moving, Caleb gave up on trying to radio the other soldiers and clambered up the ledge, having a much easier time about it due to him only carrying his gun and backpack. Straigtening, he waved everyone onward. "Keep going, follow Captain Bakarra," he said, again taking the rear to make sure they didn't lose anyone.

As the group passed in front of the valley's entrance, the carnage that they'd escaped became clear. The valley was now swarmming with other Spindileggia, with a large variety of colors clear, from stark black to bright yellow, though the majority were a lighter black and dark brown. They were picking over the battlefield, moving the punctured bodies of the group's comrades as well as apparently dead spiders over to one side of the valley. They were also messing with the human's weapons, obviously curious about how they worked.

By the bunker, they saw there was a flurry of Spindileggia going in and out of the building, though a large group was surrounding two particular spiders, their green bristled friend and a larger black spider, both of which were hissing and buzzing loud enough to be audible over the din of other sounds in the valley.

Eliza had seen her fair share of death, of blood, of pain. This was... in all honesty, not the worst thing she'd seen. It was, however, not a good sight for those with a less hardy constitution. Slinging her gun over her shoulder, she slung Jessica into her arms, carrying her like a child so she'd face away from the sight awaiting her. Last thing the kid needed was to look at that carnage, especially perpetrated by her spider friends' buddies, from Eliza's semi-experienced point of view. She might not be a good role model, but she was a soldier, and knew that darkness well. Kid didn't need to see that, and so Eliza kept booking it across the plains. She'd probably think about that scene later, in the quiet hours, like usual. Same old, same old.

Patrick stared at the carnage unfolding into the valley below. Why? Why did we try and help these creatures? If we just wasted that disgusting bug and radioed in to alert the rest maybe they could have been saved... It ain't fair. Now they have our weapons and potentially hijacked the shuttle back to the base. So many thoughts were racing through his head that it was impossible to ponder just one before another butted it's way in. One thing was for certain. If he ever saw these bugs again he wouldn't hesitate to blast them straight to the sea mother's arms. In his silent anger Patrick soon realized that he was breathing so hard that the glass was about to completely fog up and go blind. He opened his mouth ready to curse his luck and Jessica's cluelessness but he saw that Eliza was shielding her from the carnage below. Realizing this might not be the greatest place to have an arguement or a potential howling meltdown he clamped his mouth shut and grumbled to himself. Once we're out of the thick of it he'll bring his complaints up.


"No no no..." Jessica whimpered over and over again, clutching her head while shaking violently. "He was going to die.. I did the right thing... I did the right thing..." She whined in the midst of a panic attack that was making several warnings pop up for whoever was paying attention to the team vitals.

"Jessica," Arachne whispered into her radio as she dug her camera out of her bag, "You did do the right thing. The Spindileggius you saved wasn't hostile and the likelihood of every one of those-" She motioned out towards the carnage, despite Eliza shielding the girl from the carnage down below, "-being hooked up to one individual's life support is unlikely at best and an oversight on their part at worst." She postioned herself to start taking pictures- zooming her camera in close to get as close a view as it would allow her, "I need you to take deep breaths."

The kid was panicking, and Eliza wasn't equipped to deal with that in a... calm manner. Or a kind manner. Or anything besides her holding the kid close and still trucking towards the shuttle. If it were up to her the ideal method for dealing with trauma was ignore it until something better happened, but she realized that wasn't the best method for Jessie. "You didn't do shit kid, these spiders are intellegent, they know what they're doing." God this situation sucked, massively sucked huge ding-dong her uncle would have said. "Breathe deep, close your eyes, run math in your head or something, or I will knock you out for your own good."

Apparently the doctor was useless as two women were trying to comfort the kid, only able to watch one of her patients have a panic attack. Denied even giving treatment, Marlene just seemed only questioned by the other two. Wasn't much point of them being here it seemed, but that wasn't much rock to find support on in this situation. In fact, the sight that shown before them as they left the cave, brought a deep feeling of nausea. The pink haired doctor tried their best not to curl up and vomit from the sight they were not prepared for.

The helplessness sank in, on top of her already negative feelings. A sense of despair was felt, as all Marlene could do, was run with them. Now feeling as if it was the only option that remained, mainly to save her own life.

As if sensing the amount of angst that the group was collectively giving off, a nearby Spindileggius started hissing as it ran away from the entrance, which got the attention of every spider in the valley.

"Move people, move," Caleb said, pushing the group forward as a large wave of spiders started coming at them, hissing at the humans as venom dripped from their lower pincers.

Patrick quickly glanced back to see the wave of spiders begin to accelerate towards them. A mass of legs and pincers that looks to destroy the entire group. Panicked, he shoots a glance at Arachne and Eliza to see how they're holding up. He knows they're weighed down and tired. No way they're all gonna make it back to the shuttle before the wave catches up to us. Someone needs to make it though, someone needs to tell the base what happened. Patrick begins to pick up the pace in a futile attempt to try and outrun the spiders. "Come on almost there. Just a little more and we're home free." Patrick says with a false smile to try and encourage everyone.

There was absolutely nothing that came close to forcing you to forget the burning in your legs- the pain of overexertion that tugged on your gut- like your adrenal gland kicking your body into high-gear. The weight of her dufflebag became meaningless as Arachne moved as quickly as her long chicken-legs could carry her. The effort may have been nigh-pointless, but that didn't mean she was about to drop onto her back and show her belly.

Eliza was an expert at pushing past her limits, just a little bit, long sprints or feats of slightly above average strength, and this was starting to feel like both at the same time. But if Archie could move her skinny bitch-ass like the wind, Eliza moved like a steady truck, barreling down a highway with a modicum of control over that strength. Holding the child in her arms, Eliza could feel the dozens of eyes on them, but she wouldn't let herself feel fear. Eliza was also an expert at not feeling things for long periods of time, good for warfare in space and on the ground. There was only the objective, get this batch of nerds to the shuttle, keep them alive.

As the group neared the shuttle and it's spooling enginesngines, they were ambushed from above, with one enterprising Spindileggius landing on top of Eliza and Jessica, sending them all sprawling across the ground.

"Fuck it," Captain Schembri said, raising his rifle and firing a burst at the attacking spider. "Get on the shuttle, everyone, I'll cover..." he added, before nearly getting dropped on himself by a black-bristled Spindileggius. Just before he could fire again, their green colored acquaintance landing just behind the other spider and throwing the other spider away from the shuttle. The green spider than turned to the oncoming wave of spiders and started hissing and buzzing so loud that Caleb felt the vibration through his suit. The wave of Spindileggia skidded to a stop, with some pile up, just in front of their spider friend, and they stayed in place, their attention focused on the green-bristled Spindileggius.

Caleb lowered his rifle, looking around him for potential ambushers, before backing into the shuttle. "Let's get...," he started, before raising an eyebrow as their spider friend turned and walked to the shuttle's door, looking up at the looking up at him as if asking for permission to come along. "Uhh, yeah. Sure, hop on," he said, backing up from the entry way and letting the Spindileggius on board. "Get us out of here," he told the pilot as he closed the door. The pilot didn't take more than a couple of seconds to get off the ground and start flying back to Base Alpha.

It was then that Caleb recognized what his alarms were trying to tell him. "Dr. Grey's been injured, start first aid, now!"

As the doctors in the group pulled off Jessica's helmet, it became clear how serious her injuries were. The teenager was shaking uncontrollably, her breathing labored, and was coughing up mucus. The Spindileggius looked on from the other side of the shuttle, but when it saw how bad a state the linguist was in, it covered its face with its pincers, hissing quietly in the corner.

"Eliza, find the wound, rinse and clean, clot and bandage! I need to administer treatment, now move." Marlene barked in a voice that was far firmer then heard this far. The doctor slinging down her bag beside her to quickly retrieve dosages of atropine, and one of anti-seizure medication, as they also handed off a bag of gauze, peroxide, alcohol, and coagulant to Eliza. Checking Jessica's pulse and breathing, she administered the atropine first, then the seizure meds. A tube was pulled from bag incase needed, but Marlene turned the girl's head to side as not to allow her airway to flood with mucus.

Eliza knew that tone of voice better than her own parents, it was a vital part of the go-getters toolkit, one she used quite frequently. And she knew when it was turned to you and the person knew what they were talking about, you followed orders. She moved quickly, dropping her main weapons to the side and moving around the kid like a busy insect, finding the wound. "Here." She said quickly, as time ticked agonizingly slowly yet each second seeming like it went too fast.

Patrick knew better than to try and get in the way of the Doc so he just watched as his comrade fought for her life and occasionally glanced toward the creature that they took back with them. It was their fault. This was a trick and now we're going to bring one of these creatures back with us? This is insanity. Filled with a stream of anger and sorrow Patrick could barely think straight so he resorted to what he always went back in times of stress. He pulled the fishhook pin out of his chest pocket and ran it through his fingers. He closed his eyes and imagined himself back at the station. How he would whistle and the walls would echo it almost as if supporting his song. He slowed down his breathing and hoped. Hoped that Jessica would pull through. Hoped that we'll be able to strike back at those spiders.

"I'm... Sorry," Jessica whined. "I... Messed up," she added with a sob. "I'll... Go back... To my room... Please..." she gasped. "I... Don't want to...." She gasped. "I'll be good..."

With those last words Caleb's HUD blasted up indicating various levels of rapid organ failure as Jessica's body fully shut down and stiffened from the venom coursing through her tiny body.

"Well, fuck," Captain Schembri said, turning off his alarms. He opened his mouth to say something else, but was interrupted when the shuttle dove. "What in the world?" he asked, turning to the front of the plane.

"Something from the dig site just fired into the sky!" the pilot yelled, as the shuttle settled down skimming across the sea.

"When will this day calm down?" Caleb asked, sighing as he tapped an interface on the side of the shuttle. Part of the ship's wall turned bright white, then showed a video feed from the rear of the shuttle, looking back at where they'd left. A few seconds later, a lance of blue light shot into the sky high above them.

"Okay, so that's a thing," the Captain said with a frown. "What are they..." he started, before his eyes widened. "Oh, shit," he added, before bringing out his datapad and tapping on it. "Pilot, can you contact the Winston Churchill?"

"...No, I can't," the pilot said, growing quiet as another blue lance flashed behind them.

"Well, that changes things," Caleb said, looking at the rest of the team. "Those spiders just shot a Statesman out of the sky."